FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — After holding a nine-point halftime lead, Sacramento State was outscored in the second half by a 40-26 margin on the way to a 58-53 loss at Northern Arizona on Thursday evening at the Rolle Activity Center.
The Hornets missed each of their last five field goal attempts, did not score during the final 2:18, and watched NAU close the last minute on a 6-0 run. Sacramento State led the game for nearly 30 minutes of game clock (28:39), but shot just 10-for-32 (31%) from the field, including 3-for-14 from the 3-point line in the second half. The five-point margin of victory was also the Lumberjacks' largest lead of the evening.
NAU took its first lead of the second half at 45-43 with 6:21 to play after going on an 8-0 run capped by a pair of JoJo Anderson free throws. The Lumberjacks would eventually push that lead to four points before the Hornets got a Joshua Patton bucket followed by a 3-pointer from Bryce Fowler to reclaim the lead at 53-52 with 2:18 remaining. However, Sacramento State would not score the rest of the way.
After the Fowler 3-ball, the Hornets forced NAU into a shot clock violation and had a chance to extend its lead but Calvin Martin missed a contested layup. The Lumberjacks secured the rebound and eventually got a layup from Brooks DeBisschop to go up, 54-53, with 53 seconds remaining. After the Hornets' Kevin Hicks missed a corner 3-ball at the 36 second mark, NAU's JoJo Anderson would eventually bury a pair of free throws to push the lead to 56-53 with 22 seconds remaining.
On its next possession, Sacramento State's Justin Strings missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key and two more free throws from Torry Johnson put the game away. Strings scored a season-low three points and shot just 1-of-14 from the field. He did have a team-high 10 rebounds, but his streak of 47 straight games scoring in double figures came to an end. That was the fifth longest active streak in the nation, and his double-digit streak had dated back to Dec. 29, 2016.
A big factor in the game was the free throw line where Northern Arizona was 19-of-24 (79%) from the stripe while the Hornets were 5-of-9. The Lumberjacks converted on 15 free throws in the second half while the Hornets had just three makes.
Sacramento State (6-22, 3-12) has now lost seven in a row, its longest losing streak since dropping nine straight during the 2011-12 season. The Hornets' last win came at Portland State on Jan. 27, which also marked the team's lone road victory. The Hornets are now 0-9 when playing on Thursday.
Northern Arizona (5-23, 2-13) snapped its six-game losing streak with the victory. Tonight marks the only time the two teams will face each other this season. Sacramento State will play its final Big Sky Conference regular season road game on Saturday against Southern Utah at 11:35 a.m. PST.
Both teams shot poorly from the field (35%) as Sacramento State was 20-for-57 and Northern Arizona 17-of-49. The 53 points were the Hornets' third lowest output of the season. Sacramento State was 8-for-26 (31%) from the 3-point line while the Lumberjacks were 5-of-14 (36%) from long range. NAU held a 41-32 edge in the rebounding department.
For Sacramento State, Hicks led the way with a season-high 14 points as he was 5-for-11 from the field and 4-of-10 from the 3-point line. He was joined in double figures by Fowler (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa (11 points on 3-of-7 from distance). Joshua Patton added seven points and seven rebounds, and Martin finished with seven points.
For NAU, Anderson scored a team-high 15 points with each of those points coming in the second half. He was 4-for-6 from the field, 3-for-4 from the 3-point line and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Karl Harris had 11 points, Torry Johnson 10 points and Corey Brown had six points and 12 rebounds.
After Saturday's road game at Southern Utah, the Hornets conclude the regular season with two home games before taking part in the Big Sky Tournament in Reno on March 6-10.
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