Following a two-day postponement to their Big Sky Conference opener, the NAU women’s basketball team traveled to the Pacific Northwest for game one of a weekend doubleheader against Eastern Washington University.
Injuries are still holding the Lumberjacks from reaching their full potential as senior forward Khiarica Rasheed, senior guard Lauren Orndoff and redshirt junior guard Nina Radford missed their third consecutive game.
However, the start to NAU’s season has been a proving ground for a deep roster. There have been a majority of active players making an impact for the Lumberjacks.
Transfers in senior guards JJ Nakai and Miki’ala Maio proved to be huge pickups for head coach Loree Payne as the duo dominated the first half against Eastern Washington. They shot a combined 11-of-18 from the field, scoring 23 points.
Sophomore wing Emily Rodabaugh and redshirt senior wing Jacey Bailey have also been early-season stars for NAU as they combined for 15 points in the half.
The Lumberjacks had control of the game for most of the half as their high-paced transition offense led to easy layups and mid-range shots.
While NAU was poised to pull away, they were only able to muster a half-high lead of nine as Eastern Washington shot an impressive 58.6% from the field thanks to freshman guard Aaliyah Alexander, who had 16 points.
The third quarter was a different story for Eastern Washington as their offense went stale. They shot a lowly 21.4%, and that was all NAU needed to finally pull away.
The Lumberjacks outscored Eastern Washington 19-6 in the third, which included a 15-0 run. Junior guard Regan Schenck had her chance to shine as she was a perfect 3-of-3 from the field.
NAU continued to open the floodgates in the fourth quarter and extended the scoring run to 35-8, leading to a dominant 89-60 road victory.
Nakai led NAU with 18 points, while shooting 8-of-17 from the field. Rodabaugh and Maio each had 14 points. Bailey finished with 12, and Schenck added 10 points in the Lumberjack win. Combined, the team shot 51.4% from the field for the game.
The Lumberjacks improved 2-1 on the season and will do battle again with Eastern Washington Sunday afternoon to close out the weekend doubleheader.