No. 8 NAU took on No. 9 California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Idaho. Both teams each won a game facing one another, but for their third and final matchup, Sacramento came out on top 72-60.
The first five minutes started out with some quick scoring by both teams, but Sacramento State's Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa started the game hot, scoring 11 quick points shooting 4-4 from the floor and 3-3 from 3-pointer. Soon after, nothing seemed to be working for the Lumberjacks having 5 quick turnovers allowing them to shoot only one shot in their next 6 possessions. In the first half Sacramento State had shot 15-24 from the court and 8-9 from 3-pointer. Hornet’s guard Marcus Graves and Izayah Mauriohooho carried Sacramento State to their 15-point lead at halftime halftime lead, 42-27.
Both defenses did not allow the offense to find open shots early in the second half. Both teams offenses caused plenty of turnovers, NAU with 15 and SSU with 12 turnovers. Graves lead the Hornets with 27 points and got CSUS ahead. Neither team seemed to take any advantage over the other in the second half. NAU’s offense struggled and ended with 18 turnovers. The Lumberjacks were unable to come back from their first half struggles and the Hornets took home the win 72-60.
Turning Point: The Hornet’s took a 10-8 lead with a 3-pointer from Mauriohooho-Le’afa with 17:28 left to go in the first half. From this point on, the Hornets went on an 8-0 run and the Lumberjacks could never close the deficit.
Prime Performer: NAU sophomore guard Bernie Andre scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. This is Andre’s eighth double-double this season.
What’s Next?: With this loss, the Lumberjacks season has now come to an end. This is their fourth consecutive first round tournament loss. They ended the year with a 10-20 overall season record, a conference record of 8-12, and the one loss in the tournament.
Sacramento will go on to play No.1 Montana in the second round of the tournament tomorrow, March 13.