Men’s hoops defeats Northern New Mexico
Learning curves are an important part of growth for anyone, including the NAU men’s basketball team. After easily dismissing Arizona Christian four nights earlier, the inexperienced Jacks had trouble putting away the visiting Northern New Mexico Eagles but managed to record a 80-49 victory, improving to 2-3 on the new season.
“At times, I can’t say it was the greatest intensity,” said head coach Mike Adras. “I thought we played much better in the second half though. All in all, [when] you win by 30 points, there’s not a lot to complain about.”
The main threat on the night was freshman forward Gaellan Bewernick, who had 14 points and 11 boards, recording his first career double-double. Junior point guard Stallon Saldivar also had a solid game, scoring 11 points and handing out seven assists.
“I just came out and played as hard as I could,” Bewernick said. “Just trying to lift everybody’s spirits and have everybody feed off me. I missed all of last year because of my foot, and that’s kind of my motivation right now.”
Sophomore guard Michael Dunn scored eight points and recorded six assists and junior guard Luis Flores buried two 3-pointers for his six points to go along with three assists, with both players earning praise from their coach.
“Mike Dunn [and] Lou Flores stepped into starters’ roles before the game and did a really nice job,” Adras said. “If you tell me we’re going to get nine assists and [just] two turnovers from those guys, I’d tell you I’m really happy about those guys who have spent a lot of time in this program and now are getting the opportunity to do something.”
The Lumberjacks struggled with turnover problems and an out-of-sync offense, allowing NNM to remain in the game halfway through the first frame. With just over 10 minutes to play in the half, the Eagles were down 19-16.
Douglas gave the spark the Jacks needed, rattling off eight consecutive points to increase the lead to double digits. From there, the Jacks stretched their lead to 44-27 at the break, behind the strong play of Saldivar and Bewernick.
“We didn’t play up to the energy we brought against Arizona Christian,” Saldivar said. “It could have been that, or it could have been anything. We can’t win a lot of games with that type of effort.”
The Eagles would not go away lightly as they continued to battle the Jacks back and forth, trading buckets through the first three minutes of the stanza. But, a seven-minute, 15-3 run by NAU put the game out of reach with 9 minutes remaining in the contest. The Jacks began pouring it on, bringing the advantage to as much as 36.
For the second consecutive game, the Jacks dominated the inside, hitting the glass hard and continuing to score with ease in the paint. The Jacks closed the game with a 45-24 rebounding advantage to go along with 42 points in the paint, compared to the Eagles’ 16.
“It was key for us,” Adras said. “We told our guys this was what we needed to do. Once we establish ourselves inside, it really opens things up.”
The Lumberjacks committed 16 turnovers and shot a paltry 35 percent from deep. NAU did not get to the charity stripe enough, attempting just eight free throws after Adras expressed his frustration with not getting to the line enough after Friday’s victory against Arizona Christian.