Men’s basketball routed by Grizzlies at home
Conference play continues to remain unkind to the NAU men’s basketball team.
In a game that players and coaches labeled as “embarassing”, the Jacks fell to the Montana Grizzlies 78-53, losing their fourth consecutive Big Sky game and dropping their overall record to 5-13. In the BSC, the Jacks now sit near the bottom with a 1-4 record. The 25-point defeat was the worst home loss to the Grizzlies since the 1995-96 season.
“They’re a good team and they didn’t do anything we really weren’t expecting,” said interim head coach Dave Brown, now 3-8 in his tenure. “But they did it with physical strength and maturity. Our team is rather young and we get bumped around out there on the court. Sometimes, we don’t respond to that very well.”
Junior guard Gabe Rogers had 13 points to lead the Lumberjacks and freshman guard James Douglas kicked in 11. Overall, NAU shot a paltry 31 percent from the field, a number unfitting of the Jacks, which included a 3-of-12 mark from 3-point range.
NAU’s first three possessions all resulted in turnovers, setting a negative tone for the squad as UM began to ramp up the offense, taking an 18-6 lead just under 6 minutes into the contest. That lead swelled to 18 just before the first 20 minutes were over before the Lumberjacks closed it to 39-23 on a Douglas jumper. For the half, NAU committed 10 turnovers with UM converting those into 17 points.
“They just jumped out on us at the beginning and we were never really able to combat that and overcome it,” said senior forward Durrell Norman. “Its something we’ve been doing lately and its something we really need to turn around.”
The second stanza did not produce much better results for the home team. Every time the Jacks appeared they were getting back into the game, the Grizzlies were right there to stymie the Lumberjacks. The poor shooting by NAU continued to plague them as UM built a 28-point advantage before settling for the final score.
“We got a couple pushes but they got us right back,” Douglas said. “We have to have effort and take some pride. We lacked some intensity and got our heads down early. This is our home court and we have to protect it. “
The Grizzlies remain undefeated in conference play and looked like one of the league’s most complete squads in gaining the victory. UM shot 59 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep, with Kareem Jamar leading the visitors with 15 points.
The Jacks were at a decent size disadvantage and it showed, being outscored 40-18 in the paint but much of that was attributed to the Grizzlies’ system.
“Even though they were taller than us, they play a ’4-out, 1-in’ so for the most part, you’re out on the wing guarding a big with a guard skill set,” Norman said. “Its not too much banging inside but its definitely hard as they are very talented and very skilled.
The Jacks continue their two-game home stand this Saturday as they match-up with Montana State in the Rolle Activity Center at 6:35 p.m.
“If we don’t handle their physicality and come out with our heads down, we’ll probably be having to adjust attitudes again next week,” Brown said.