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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL DROPS HOME CONTEST TO NORTHERN ARIZONA
Senior Duro Bjegovic had a team-best 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go along with five rebounds
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Northern Arizona’s Cameron Jones scored a game-high 23 points and Sacramento State shot just 29.4 percent (15-for-51) from the field as the Lumberjacks knocked off the Hornets, 63-42, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at The Nest.
The 21-point margin of defeat was Sacramento State’s most lopsided home loss of the season.
In a game the Hornets would have loved to have for Big Sky Tournament purposes, Sacramento State’s field goal percentage was its second lowest output of the season. The Hornets had just six assists on 15 made baskets while turning the ball over 16 times. After converting on three of their first four three-point attempts, Sacramento State went 0-for-9 from distance the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Northern Arizona, which is the Big Sky’s best shooting team, shot 50.0 percent (26-for-52) from the field and 88.9 percent (8-9) from the free throw line. The Lumberjacks scored 34 of their 63 points in the paint, and tallied 17 assists with just nine turnovers.
After the Lumberjacks jumped out to an 8-0 lead, Sacramento State answered with a 12-0 run spanning four minutes to take a 12-8 lead with 11:34 to play. Both teams battled back and forth until a jumper from senior Alpha N’Diaye gave the Hornets their final lead of the night at 18-17 with 4:35 left in the first half. Northern Arizona closed the half on a 9-0 run to take a 26-18 lead at halftime.
The Hornets closed to within six points of the Lumberjacks’ lead early in the second half, but that was close as they would get the remainder of the evening. NAU outscored the Hornets, 37-24, in the second half, and after taking an 11-point lead with 12:30 to play, the Lumberjacks led by double figures the rest of the night.
Northern Arizona (17-10, 8-6) has now defeated the Hornets 13 straight times dating back to February of 2005.
With the loss, the Hornets had their three-game home winning streak snapped. Sacramento State (7-19, 4-10) remains just a game back of the sixth and final spot into the Big Sky Tournament with two games remaining on the regular season schedule. The top six teams in the nine-member league reach the conference’s postseason event, and Eastern Washington is currently sixth with a 5-9 record. Idaho State is also in the mix with a 4-10 league mark.
The Hornets’ final two games will come at home against Weber State on Saturday, and next Wednesday at Northern Colorado. Eastern Washington plays at home against Montana on Saturday, and at Weber State on Wednesday. Idaho State has Northern Colorado at home, and Montana State on the road.
Jones’ 23 points came on 10-of-21 shooting as the senior also had four assists in 37 minutes. He was joined in double figures by Game Rogers (15 points) as the pair combined for 38 of NAU’s 63 points. Center Shane Johannsen added eight points, six rebounds and two steals.
For Sacramento State, senior Duro Bjegovic was the lone player in double figures as he finished with 12 points and five rebounds on 4-of-7 shooting (2-for-3 from distance). Sophomore John Dickson added seven points and six rebounds, junior Alpha N'Diaye had four points and a game-high seven rebounds, and junior Walter Jackson had five points and five rebounds.
Prior to the Hornets’ game against Weber State on Saturday, the team’s lone two seniors (Bjegovic and Sultan Toles-Bey) will be honored for their contributions to the program.
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