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Women's Basketball's Senior Day Spoiled in Overtime by Portland State

From left to right: Taylor Leyva, Brittani Lusain, Bradlee Cotton, Rene Coggins, Catelyn Preston, Chelena Betoney
From left to right: Taylor Leyva, Brittani Lusain, Bradlee Cotton, Rene Coggins, Catelyn Preston, Chelena Betoney

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – It was almost the perfect ending. But a last second Senior Day win was not quite in the cards for the Northern Arizona women's basketball team on Saturday, as Portland State snuck out of the Skydome with a 74-73 overtime win. The 'Jacks suffered their second one-point loss to the Vikings this season despite hitting a school record-tying 13 three pointers, and fell to 8-19 overall and 4-12 in conference play heading into the final week of the regular season.

"We took care of the ball pretty well and we forced them into turnovers, but we weren't able to capitalize on them like we wanted to," said interim head coach Robyne Bostick. "We really didn't shoot the ball really well, and it's easy to think that you can shoot them out of their 2-3 zone, but their length at the top of the zone can make it difficult to get the ball in the middle. I'm proud of the way the team fought and stayed with it."

Senior Rene Coggins had a milestone final home game as her first three-pointer of the game pushed her into the exclusive 1,000 point club. Coggins, who finished the game with 16 points, is the 15th player in school history to reach the mark.

"I couldn't have gotten to this point without my teammates or my coaches," Coggins said. "In this program, it is such an accomplishment to be in the same group as players I looked up to like Amanda Frost and Alyssa Wahl. There was a lot of emotions out there. To hit this accomplishment on my Senior Night, being from Arizona and doing it at NAU with all of my family here, it was amazing."

Coggins was one of four Lumberjacks in double-figures with redshirt junior Olivia Lucero leading the way with 19 points. Lucero made four of NAU's school record tying 13 three-pointers, while Coggins and freshman Raina Perez each making three apiece.

A 14th three-pointer would have won the game as senior Taylor Leyva had an open look in the corner with four seconds left in overtime. Senior Brittani Lusain grabbed the offensive board, but her layup as time expired was off the mark as well.

NAU was down six, 58-52, with 4:42 remaining in regulation, but Coggins' third triple tied the game up at 60-60 with 1:35 left. After the teams exchanged buckets, Portland State turned the ball over with 2.7 seconds on the clock. Following a timeout, Lucero drove baseline but her potential game-winning layup was blocked, sending the game into overtime.

In the extra session, NAU used a 7-0 run to take a 69-65 lead with three minutes to go, only for Portland State to tie it up. Perez, who finished with 15 points herself, then knocked down a three to provide NAU with its final lead of the game, 72-69, with just under two minutes left. The Vikings scored the next five points though and then held off NAU's final sequence to survive.

The Lumberjacks took a narrow 27-26 lead into the locker room at halftime despite shooting just 31.4 percent in the first half before having to play from behind for the majority of the third quarter.

The Vikings shot a highly efficient 47.5 percent for the game, while the Lumberjacks shot only 34.9 percent overall. NAU remained in the game, despite only shooting six free throws in 45 minutes of action, due to its massive advantage in three-point shooting. However, the Lumberjacks were outrebounded 47-42, and they were only able to turn 18 offensive rebounds into 12 points. Led by senior Catelyn Preston's team-high five assists, the Lumberjacks had a healthy 20-to-8 assist-to-turnover ratio. Preston also led the team with 10 rebounds, marking her fourth straight double-digit rebounding game.

Saturday was NAU's final home game of the season – and the final home games in the careers of Coggins, Leyva, Lusain, Preston, Bradlee Cotton and Chelena Betoney.

"I left it all on the court and that's why this is really bittersweet," said Lusain, who tallied 15 points and four assists off the bench. "The loss is obviously not what we wanted, but I can tell just through touch, eye contact and vocally that this team loves each other so much. To be a part of this is the sweetest thing."

The Lumberjacks conclude the regular season next Wednesday at Idaho and Friday at Eastern Washington before traveling to Reno, Nev. for the start of the Big Sky Tournament on March 6.