Jacks get first Division 1 win of season in Brown’s debut
New men’s basketball coach Dave Brown got a nice reward in his first game as the Lumberjacks’ head coach — a victory.
Led by freshman guard James Douglas’ 22 points, the Jacks snapped a three game losing streak and got their first Division 1 victory of the season, an 80-67 win over the Cal State Bakersfield (CSUB) Roadrunners 80-67, improving to 3-7 on the year.
“It is very humbling to be a part of this situation,” Brown said. “These young men played their hearts out for me. It was really important to them. We had some tough games and this was a big game for them to get that monkey off their back.”
Douglas was the main offensive weapon for most of the night, finishing 9-of-13 from the floor including nailing four 3-pointers to set his new career high, surpassing his previous career best by one point. Junior point guard Stallon Saldivar also had a quality game, scoring 16 points and dishing out seven assists. Freshman forward Gaellan Bewernick came off the bench to score 10 and haul down 5 boards.
“Me and Coach Brown talked, helped me out with my shot and kept telling me to shoot the ball and I did,” Douglas said. “We all feel like we have something to bring to this team.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams going on runs to take the lead over and over again. CSUB’s largest lead was nine while NAU’s biggest margin was by eight. After freshman guard Colin Gruber opened the scoring with a triple, the Roadrunners proceeded to rattle off 12 straight points, eight from guard Zach Lamb. But the Jacks, would continue to battle, eventually taking a one-point lead before surrendering it again. Down 24-21 with 10 minutes to play in the half, the Jacks went on a 9-0 run to take the six point lead before eventually stretching that to 35-27 before ending the half with a 40-32 advantage.
“They burned a lot of their [NAU's] emotion in that first couple minutes,” Brown said. “We had to remind them that there’s a lot of basketball left.”
CSUB came out of the intermission on fire, scoring eight straight points to knot the game at 40. The Roadrunners eventually took the lead at 50-47 with just under 12 minutes to play entering a timeout, where the Jacks decided to kick it up a notch.
“We just buckled down,” Saldivar said. “We just said we’re sick of losing, let’s get this ball rolling. We came out with fire out of that media timeout and then it just took off from there.”
NAU went on a 16-0 run over nearly six minutes of play, courtesy of multiple buckets from Saldivar and Douglas. That stretch put the Jacks up 63-50 and essentially clinched the victory. The lead would swell to as many as much as 17 before a couple of shots from CSUB brought it down to the final margin.
“That locker room is (expletive) crazy right now,” Douglas said after the game. “Sorry for my language.”
The 80 points were more than the Jacks’ two previous offensive outputs against Arizona and Pepperdine combined, as the team only mustered 79 between the two games. For the game, the Jacks finished with a 55 percent shooting percentage including a 50 percent clip from deep, hitting nine of their 18 attempts from distance.
The Jacks now take a week off for final exams and will next take the court against Arizona State in Tempe on Dec. 17 at 4 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.