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WOMENâ€™S BASKETBALL FALLS TO NORTHERN ARIZONA IN HOME FINALE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Northern Arizona’s Sade Cunningham (22), Laura Dinkins (16) and Ashley Ingle (13) combined for 51 of the team’s 77 points to lead the Lumberjacks to a 77-62 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference women’s basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Hornets Nest.
The contest marked the final home game of the season for Sacramento State, and the loss did not help the Hornets’ chances at making the Big Sky Tournament (the top six teams in the nine member league advance). With three games left on the schedule (all on the road), Sacramento State (6-19, 4-9) is currently in eighth place, 1.5 games behind sixth-place Weber State (5-7) and a game back of seventh-place Northern Arizona (5-8).
Sacramento State will travel to Idaho State (Feb. 28) and Weber State (March 1) next week, and conclude the season at Northern Colorado on March 8.
With the victory, Northern Arizona improved to 9-17 overall and now sits just a half game back of the sixth and final spot into the Big Sky Tournament.
The biggest difference in the game came in the rebounding department, where Northern Arizona outrebounded Sacramento State, 45-31, and used 16 offensive rebounds to score 16 second-chance points.
"I felt that the pace of the game was dictated by NAU," head coach Dan Muscatell said following the game. "They hurt us on the boards, and we were never able to gain the momentum you'd hope for in a game of this magnitude."
The Hornets had just six second-chance points, and were limited to 36.2 percent (21-58) shooting from the field. In fact, Sacramento State’s starting five combined to shoot just 30.9 percent (13-42) from the field.
No team led by more than five points during a first half which featured seven ties and eight lead changes. Sacramento State took a four-point lead (32-28) with 1:47 left in the first, but Northern Arizona scored the last seven points of the half to take a 35-32 lead into the break. Sparking the run was Cunningham who scored five of those seven points.
NAU carried the momentum into the second half by scoring four of the first six points, giving the team an 11-2 run spanning parts of both the first and second halves. After a jumper from Dinkins gave NAU a 39-34 lead with 18:08 remaining, Sacramento State would trail the rest of the way.
The Hornets sliced the Lumberjacks’ lead to one point on two occasions in the second half (10:05, 9:49), but after the one-point deficit at the 9:49 mark, NAU went on a back-breaking 15-6 run over the next 4:47 to claim a 10-point lead (67-57) with 5:02 remaining. Sacramento State would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Both Dinkins and (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Ingle (13 points, 10 rebounds) finished with double-doubles, and Cunningham shot 5-of-6 from the field, 2-of-2 from the three-point line and 10-of-10 from the free throw line for her game-high 22 points. No other Lumberjack scored more than nine points.
Freshman Emily Christensen scored a season-high 19 points for the Hornets. The El Dorado Hills, Calif., native shot 7-of-10 from the field, 3-of-3 from the three-point line and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Joining Christensen in double figures for the Hornets were junior Atty Boyer (13 points, team-best nine rebounds) and freshman Jasmine Cannady (10 points). Boyer had posted five straight double-doubles before finishing one rebound shy of a sixth straight today. She has scored in double figures in seven straight games and eight of the last nine.
Freshman point guard Sami Field-Polisso added six assists and two steals in 38 minutes of play.
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