Women’s basketball continues struggles with two losses in Montana
NAU women’s basketball capped off a long winter break by dropping consecutive Big Sky Conference (BSC) games against Montana and Montana State. The two losses extended the Jacks current losing streak to nine, with their last win coming against non-conference opponent Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 4th.
The Lumberjacks (5–13, 0–6 Big Sky Conference) lost to the Bobcats (11–6, 3–2 BSC) 77–65 in their final game of the winter recess. Junior small forward Tyler Stephens-Jenkins led the team with 19 points, followed by junior shooting guard Amy Patton’s 11. Sophomore power forwards Shay May and Trinidee Trice added six rebounds each.
“We played really hard,” said head coach Laurie Kelly, via NAU Athletics. “But [we] went back to struggling from the free throw line, missing key free throws to keep the game close.”
Stephens-Jenkins sunk a three-pointer to open the contest and begin a 7–2 Lumberjack run. The Bobcats answered back with three uncontested shots and a Stephens-Jenkins free throw tied the game 8–8 after seven minutes of play.
Both teams battled for the upper hand through the remainder of the first half. With six minutes left and the score knotted at 20, Montana State (MSU) went on a 15–7 run to end the half.
“We had some mental breakdowns at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half that cost us the game,” said Kelly, via NAU Athletics.
MSU began the second half with seven unanswered points, before Stephens-Jenkins found the net with a layup. With the score 44–32 in favor of MSU, NAU went on a 9–0 run, spurred by a Stephen-Jenkins three. Senior point guard Caty Huntington tied the game at 46 with a three pointer with 10:39 remaining in the game.
Unfortunately for the Jacks, that would be the closest they would come to overtaking the Bobcats for the rest of the game.
The Jacks began their road trip to Montana by visiting the Grizzlies of the University of Montana (UM). NAU lost to UM (10–7, 3–1 BSC) 60–48, despite May’s and Patton’s 10 points and nine boards each.
“We made defense a priority and got a lot of good looks for our posts who played well,” said Kelly, via NAU Athletics.
The game was a defensive battle, with both teams holding each other under 40 percent shooting. The Jacks were held to 33.3 percent, compared to the Grizzlies 37 percent. With all of the other stats almost even, UM notched two more rebounds than NAU; the biggest discrepancy was the turnovers. The Grizzlies forced the Lumberjacks to turn the ball over 21 times through the contest, including 12 in the first half, compared to UM’s 16 giveaways for the whole game.
“We’ve been coming out of the gates slowly the last few games,” said Kelly, via NAU Athletics. “It’s really hard to come back from that on the road.”