Despite a strong first half, in addition to a combined 44 points from redshirt junior guard Jacey Bailey and junior forward Khiarica Rasheed, NAU women's basketball would falter late on the road against the Montana State University Bobcats 73-71 Saturday afternoon.
The loss extends NAU’s road losing streak to three games. The Bobcats, meanwhile, extend their winning streak to 13 games. Montana State's last loss came in conference play against the University of Idaho on Jan. 9th.
NAU started the game with a quick tempo. The team outscored the Bobcats 14-9 through the first six minutes of the game. Through the latter part of the first quarter, the Bobcats’ perimeter and paint defense would start to get going as NAU would fail to get off a shot after redshirt junior guard Caitlin Malvar’s made layup with 5:13 left.
Bailey would snap the scoreless drought from the field with a made jumper in the paint 20 seconds into the 2nd quarter. The Lumberjacks would continue to capitalize off the Bobcats’ shaky transition offense by outscoring Montana State 16-8 over the last 7:45 of the first half. Bailey and redshirt sophomore forward Nina Radford would lead the Lumberjacks in the first half with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
NAU would outshoot the Bobcats inside and outside the perimeter in the first half, with the Lumberjacks shooting over 40% in both areas, while also shooting 67% from the line.
NAU would begin the second half up 40-26 and would continue to stymie the Bobcats’ inside defense, with a Rasheed layup under the net, padding the Lumberjacks' lead to 16. However, the Bobcats’ high-octane offense would find its rhythm midway through the 3rd quarter, as Montana State would go on a 16-10 run over the final six minutes of the quarter.
The Lumberjacks, despite bending, would not break, as a buzzer-beating layup by sophomore guard Regan Schenck would put NAU up by five points to begin the 4th quarter. Montana State, through the usage of an intense 2-3 zone, would hold off the Lumberjacks’ offensive advances and would tie the game 60-60 with 6:08 to go off of a layup from MSU freshman guard Darian White.
Montana State would finally buckle NAU’s defense and would take its first lead of the game 65-64 with 3:25 to go off of a made free-throw by senior forward Martha Kuderer. The Bobcats would close the game perfect from the line (6-6) to hold onto the lead.
Despite getting outscored 40-26 in the first half, Montana State would outscore the Lumberjacks 47-31 in the 2nd half and would visit the free-throw line 35 times in the game altogether. Four Bobcats would finish in double-digits, led by junior guard Tori Martell’s 17 points.
NAU falls to fourth in the Big Sky Conference standings. The Lumberjacks conclude the regular season Wednesday evening in Flagstaff against the Portland State Vikings at 6:30 p.m.