MENâ€™S BASKETBALL OVERCOMES LARGE DEFICIT, BUT FALLS AT NORTHERN ARIZONA
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Cameron Jones scored 28 of Northern Arizona’s 68 points, including 16 in the second half, to lead Northern Arizona to a 68-58 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Walkup Skydome.
Both teams went on substantial runs during the game, but unfortunately for the Hornets, the Lumberjacks had the last run, a 15-0 spurt late in the second half to put the contest away. Northern Arizona’s initial run spanned the final 10:06 of the first half as the Lumberjacks outscored the Hornets, 20-8, over that time frame to take a game-high 37-17 lead into halftime.
However, after both teams exchanged buckets the first three and a half minutes of the second half, Sacramento State was able to completely erase an 18-point deficit (40-22) by going on a 22-4 run to tie the game at 44-44 with 11:09 left. During the run, six different Hornets scored while Donald Thomas, Jonathan Malloy, Michael Selling and Justin Eller each buried three-pointers. It was Eller’s three-pointer that tied the game at 44-44.
That was as close as the Hornets would get to reclaiming the lead the rest of the afternoon, though, as Northern Arizona immediately responded with a 15-0 run to take a 59-44 lead with 6:56 left in the game. The Hornets would get no closer than within 10 points of NAU’s lead the rest of the way. During the Lumberjacks’ run, Sacramento State turned the ball over five times (including four straight possessions) and went 0-for-3 from the field. Jones scored seven of Northern Arizona’s 15 points during the spurt.
With the victory, Northern Arizona improved to 8-17 overall and 5-9 in the Big Sky. The Lumberjacks have now defeated the Hornets on nine consecutive occasions dating back to the 2005-06 season. Sacramento State lost its sixth straight and fell to 2-25 overall and 1-13 in the Big Sky. The Hornets, who have been eliminated from Big Sky Tournament contention, have just two games remaining on the schedule - Feb. 26 at Idaho State and Feb. 28 at Weber State.
Sacramento State shot well from the field (.500, 22-for-44) and the three-point line (.471, 8-for-17), but could not overcome 18 turnovers and a 31-21 rebounding disparity. In addition, Northern Arizona went to the free throw line 31 times (converting 20) compared to the Hornets making just nine trips (converting six of those attempts). Sacramento State was whistled for 22 fouls during the game, compared to just 12 fouls called on NAU. Thirteen of those 31 Lumberjack rebounds came on the offensive end and resulted in 16 second-chance points compared to just three for Sacramento State.
For Northern Arizona, Jones’ 28 points came on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from long range and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. Josh Lepley added 15 points and eight rebounds, and Shane Johannsen had 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots to round out the three Lumberjacks in double figures.
Sacramento State was led by junior Jonathan Malloy’s season-high 16 points as the shooting guard finished 6-of-12 from the field with four assists and two steals. However, Malloy did have seven of Sacramento State’s 18 turnovers. Joining Malloy in double figures were senior Randy Adams (12 points, 5-of-8 from the field) and junior Antonio Flaggs (10). Junior Justin Eller added seven points and a game-high tying eight rebounds, and senior Donald Thomas had six points. Five different Hornets buried three-pointers, including Flaggs who finished 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, and Thomas who went 2-for-2.
Today’s game was part of a doubleheader as Sacramento State’s women’s team won an overtime thriller against the Lady Jacks, 83-80, before the men’s game tipped off.