The NAU women's basketball team took on Montana State University (MSU) in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise, Idaho. Although the Lumberjacks battled late against MSU, they came up short and lost 76-71.
In the first quarter of Wednesday's matchup, both teams had decent starts offensively. The Lumberjacks shot 7-15 from the field and were 3-5 from three, and they got a surprise 5-point surge from junior guard Regan Schenck. Although MSU was aggressive, it missed shots and was unable to penetrate NAU’s 2-3 defense.
The tides shifted in the second quarter. MSU came out forcing their way in the paint. In the half, MSU outscored NAU 14-8. MSU's bench play was a huge advantage as it gave them 21 points compared to NAU’s abysmal 8, which came from Schenck. As the second quarter advanced, so did MSU’s scoring. MSU went on a 12-2 run and closed the gap on NAU’s lead, eventually taking it for themselves.
Fourteen turnovers were the main hindrance for NAU in the first half. Due to ill-advised passes and poor dribbling, NAU turned the ball over in every way it could, which led to 11 points for MSU. Junior forward Khiarica Rasheed, the Big Sky Conference scoring leader, was suffocated by MSU’s interior defense. MSU fronted her in the post and she had swarming hands in her face whenever she took a shot. At the end of the half, MSU had outscored NAU by 10, which gave them a 35-28 lead heading into the second half.
Unfortunately for NAU, the second half was much of the same. MSU remained the more mature, disciplined team. Even though NAU turned the ball over less, MSU did a better job at cashing opportunities.
The Lumberjacks did remain scrappy and never let MSU get too far away from them. Rasheed had somewhat of a resurgence in the second half and eventually got through the MSU defense, providing NAU with 13 points. Sophomore forward Nina Radford did her best to be the hero for her team by giving NAU 21 points. She shot 9-14 and had three 3-pointers to go along with it.
The Lumberjacks made it interesting at the end with an opportunity to tie the game, but they turned the ball over and MSU closed the game out.
With the loss, NAU’s season comes to a close as well. The lumberjacks end their season with a 16-15 overall record and a 12-8 conference record.