Thursday evening's matchup between NAU and the University of Northern Colorado was a hard-fought battle with both teams having the opportunity to win at the end of the game.
The Lumberjacks shot 34.5% from the field and 15% from beyond the arc. NAU's leading scorer was senior guard JJ Nakai, who finished with 11 points.
Northern Colorado shot a similar clip from the field as NAU, but was much more efficient from distance, shooting 31.8%. The Bears won the rebounding battle and were led by sophomore guard Jasmine Gayles who made four 3-pointers in a dominant 22-point evening.
The first half of play consisted in a game of runs, and Northern Colorado was able to control momentum for longer periods of time than the Lumberjacks.
Northern Colorado controlled play in the first quarter, outscoring the Lumberjacks 23-9 and making over half of their shot attempts. The Lumberjacks were held to just nine points and shot 30% from the field in the opening period.
While the Bears led 35-21 going into halftime, the Lumberjacks full-court press was extremely promising in the second quarter. It produced multiple turnovers that shifted momentum and sparked energy.
The start of the second half saw the Lumberjacks come out with a fast pace. Their full-court press was on and off, while surprising the Bears with a half-court trap as well. This forced the Bears to score with outside jumpers.
The third-quarter score favored the Lumberjacks 16-11 and brought the total after three quarters of play to 46-37, a single-digit deficit for NAU.
In the fourth quarter, the Lumberjacks cut Northern Colorado's lead to just one, due to a well-operated press.
However, it wouldn’t be enough as the Bears won the game with good clock management. This prevented the Lumberjacks from surging late and stealing a game dominated by the Bears.
This win brings Northern Colorado to a 7-9 record, 6-5 in the Big Sky Conference. The Lumberjacks are now on a three-game losing streak and post a 6-9 record, 4-7 in conference play.
The Lumberjacks return to Flagstaff on Saturday to finish the two-game series against Northern Colorado.