A career-high 27 points, a perfect 8/8 from the field, 12 rebounds and six assists.
This was the sensational stat line from junior guard Regan Schenck as she led the charge in a key 84-81 win Saturday afternoon against the University of Northern Colorado.
“Regan is our X-factor,” NAU WBB head coach Loree Payne said. “She’ll never say she feels like a scorer, but when she scores, we have a lot of success.”
Schenck not only dominated offensively, but was the glue of the defense. She prevented guards from getting easy baskets on drives to the basket and she suffocated her assignments when Payne called for the press.
“I just haven’t been playing my best these last couple of games,” Schenck said. “It was important for me to play well and get the team back on the winning road.”
In the first quarter, the Lumberjacks looked like the team that started the season 5-2 as they scored a frequent pace and forced UNCo to turn the ball over due to their smothering press.
NAU took the early advantage after the first quarter, but the Bears managed to find a rhythm and broke the Lumberjacks’ press. Payne said UNCo was able to break the press due to sophomore guard Alisha Davis finding easy-look passes in the backside of NAU’s press, which led to easy layups.
This led to a stalemate quarter as neither team was able to pull away or gain momentum on the other.
While Schenck only managed to get up one shot in the second quarter, this is where senior guard Miki’ala Maio began to make her mark. She scored nine points in the 10 minutes leading to halftime as the Lumberjacks continued their swift pace in transition.
Defense was thrown out in the second half as UNCo and NAU combined for 49 points in the third quarter. Maio continued her big day with another 11 points in the quarter, but the Bears responded to her success as they made their first nine shots of the quarter. Sophomore guard Jasmine Gayles and junior forward Micayla Isenbart each scored nine in the quarter. However, the Bears missed their final four shots of the quarter, allowing the Lumberjacks to maintain a two-possession advantage.
The final 10 minutes were the takeover of Schenck. She showed her great, two-way play as she made opportune defensive stops, grabbed the boards, ran out in transition and controlled the tempo of the entire fourth quarter.
UNCo kept the pressure on the Lumberjacks as they hit five three-pointers to stay within striking distance. Senior guard Alexis Chapman and freshman guard Hannah Simental carried the Bears late as they were the two to hit from beyond the arc. Simental finished with 13 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to pull off the comeback as Schenck carried the way for NAU.
Schenck got to the free-throw line late and this sealed the deal for the Lumberjacks despite UNCo finding a pair of three’s in the final minute. The pressure didn’t get to Schenck as she and sophomore forward Emily Rodabaugh hit the final free throws to officially snap the losing skid.
Maio finished with 24 points in the win on a blistering 11/13 shooting, which is a career-high for her at NAU.
One glaring stat from the Lumberjacks were the struggles of senior guard JJ Nakai and senior forward Khiarica Rasheed as they only combined for 10 points and shot an ice-cold 3/21 from the field.
Saturday was an important win for NAU as this only their second win of 2021. They lost seven of eight games to start the calendar year with their only win coming at home against the University of Montana Jan. 16.
The Lumberjacks have momentum going into the final month of the regular season and will remain at home next week as they have a two-game series against Cal State University, Sacramento Thursday and Saturday.
“We’re hyped, we’re excited and we need to keep that excitement going,” Schenck said.