Women’s basketball finally snaps losing streak
In a battle against Weber State to avoid the bottom of the Big Sky Conference (BSC), the NAU women’s basketball team earned its first conference win of the season and snapped a nine game losing streak that began on Dec. 10.
The Lumberjacks (6–13, 1–6 BSC) pulled away in the second half to beat the Weber State Wildcats (2–17, 0–6 BSC) 71–58 Thursday night in the Rolle Activity Center.
“I thought the adjustments we made in the second half with our zone really helped,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “Defensively, I thought we got a lot of steals, got hands on balls, we pressured the ball. It was a great team win for us.”
The Lumberjacks stepped it up defensively in the second, allowing only 22 points on 27.6 percent shooting for the Wildcats.
This followed a first half where the teams matched each other in nearly every facet of the game. The Wildcats held a 51.6 to 50 percent advantage from the field, while the Lumberjacks led 18–16 on the boards. The lead changed hands nine times and included seven ties.
But with eight seconds remaining in the half, senior forward Katie Pratt deflected the ball away from Weber State. Freshman guard Jasmine Sneed then recovered it, drove through traffic, and hit a layup with three seconds left in the opening half.
The basket gave the Lumberjacks a 38–36 lead going into halftime and they never trailed for the remainder of the game.
The Wildcats’ largest lead in the game, 29–23, came with 5:43 left in the first half after an 11–0 run.
But the lead would not last long as junior guard Amy Patton, the Lumberjacks leading scorer, scored six of the Lumberjacks next eight points to tie the score at 31 with 3:14 remaining.
“I didn’t even know that,” Patton said about her scoring burst. “I think I was just going with the flow (of the game).”
The six points came on Patton’s only field goals of the night as she finished with 10 points after hitting four late free throws to help ice the game. She also added four rebounds and two steals in 17 minutes played.
“Amy is a very important part of our offense, she has an ability to create shots when we need shots,” said Kelly.
The low minute total was consistent across the board for NAU, as coach Kelly took advantage of Weber State’s short bench, playing 11 women.
“To play people in short spurts allows them to get a quick breather and come back in,” said Kelly. “You’re going to be able to hopefully break down a team playing eight people, four of them playing 30 or more minutes. Eventually that’s going to help you.”
All 11 women scored for the Lumberjacks and seven of them scored six or more points.
“The question is how deep you can go without dropping off, that’s that gray area,” added Kelly. “I want to play as deep as I can without losing skill, intensity, effort, [or] continuity on the floor.”
Senior guard Caty Huntington lead NAU in minutes played with 27 and points with 11 on 3-of-8 shooting with all three field goals coming from behind the three point line. Huntington added six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Sophomore center Shay May led the Lumberjacks in rebounds with 10 while adding six points on 3-of-5 shooting in 24 minutes.
“I do what I have to do, keep them off the glass so we can get more chances with the ball,” said May.
The Lumberjacks now have a day to prepare for the Idaho State Bengals (13-5, 5-0 Big Sky), the last remaining undefeated school in conference play, as they host them Saturday at 3:05 p.m. at the Rolle Activity Center.
When speaking about Idaho State’s lineup, Kelly said they don’t simply have one great player, but “so many good players that play great together.”