Opponent: Southern Utah (Saturday, Dec. 31/2:00 p.m.)
Location: Cedar City, Utah
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - After a 4-7 record through the non-conference season, the Northern Arizona women's basketball team restarts on a clean slate with their Big Sky opener on Saturday at Southern Utah. The Lumberjacks and Thunderbirds - two of four teams to play a single game in the opening week of conference play - have a New Year's Eve 2 p.m. tip-off in the Centrum Arena in Cedar City.
Follow the Action:
- Saturday's game can be heard for free online at nauathletics.com/wbbradio. The pregame show will start 15 minutes prior to tip-off at 1:45 p.m.
- There will also be a live video stream at watchbigsky.com.
Robyne Bostick's Opening Thought: "This is the most exciting part of the season. Everyone wants to do well in the non-conference, but we're all 0-0 moving forward. Going to Southern Utah is always a tough place to play, and on Saturday we want to play the way we know we can play. It'll be important to come out of the gates strong and it'll take a lot of hard work if we want to get a win on the road to start conference."
Previewing The 'Jacks: NAU opens the Big Sky schedule with a 4-7 record for the third consecutive season. The Lumberjacks put up a positive effort in their non-conference finale, losing 78-65 at Utah on Dec. 21. The Utes were undefeated and were ranked No. 9 in the NCAA RPI at the time. As they have all season, senior Rene Coggins and redshirt junior Olivia Lucero led the 'Jacks against Utah with 17 and 16 points respectively. Lucero ranks eighth in the conference with a team-leading 14.5 points per game with Coggins right behind at 14.0 per contest. Redshirt junior Kenna McDavis has reemerged as a scoring threat over the last two games at Grand Canyon and Utah averaging 11.5 points per game to raise her season average to 7.1. The 'Jacks head into conference play as the fourth-highest scoring team in the Big Sky averaging 69.7 points per game on 39.5 percent shooting. NAU ranks second in the conference in three-point shooting at 33.2 percent and in its last six games, the Lumberjacks are averaging 16.8 assists per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5.
Scouting Southern Utah: Southern Utah was selected 12th in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches Poll - one spot behind NAU - and 11th in the Media Poll - one spot ahead of NAU. The Thunderbirds have already matched their win total from a year ago and take a 5-6 record into conference play. They closed their non-conference schedule with wins at UC Irvine (70-58) and CSUN (77-71) on Dec. 19 and 21 respectively. Jessica Richardson was named the Big Sky's Player of the Week for her 24 points, 10 rebound performance against CSUN. For the season she is averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and was named to the preseason all-conference team. Darri Frandsen is averaging 10.5 points per game and ranks third in the Big Sky in rebounding at 7.7 per game. She also leads the conference in offensive rebounding with 35.
Bostick on Southern Utah: "Southern Utah is a program that some other teams in the conference may be overlooking, but they're in the same position as us in wanting to prove people wrong. Both teams are going to come out with a chip on their shoulder. Jessica Richardson has gotten a lot of attention in the preseason, but they have a number of talented players who can step up and do well for them."
- NAU and Southern Utah will be meeting for the 33rd time in school history. NAU leads the all-time series 19-13. The two teams split last season's meetings with each team winning on their home court. Southern Utah claimed the win, 73-68, in Cedar City on Feb. 27, 2016.
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