Men’s hoops’ losing streak reaches eight
Despite playing the Big Sky Conference’s (BSC) worst team, the NAU men’s basketball team could never get in a rhythm on the road, falling 77-43 to the Sacramento State Hornets. The loss pushes the Lumberjacks’ skid to eight games and they now find themselves in the cellar of the conference standings.
“We’re just not getting it done,” said interim head coach Dave Brown. “I don’t think we’re buying in to what we’re trying to teach.”
Dave Brown decided to change things up slightly entering the contest, electing to start four guards and a forward, hoping to get the offense flowing around the perimeter. But that plan never materialized, as the Hornets jumped out early and often, leading by as much as 14 in the early going. That advantage would be pushed to 18 before reaching a halftime score of 38-19.
“I took a little bit of a gamble starting a small team,” Brown said. “It just didn’t work tonight. We got some decent shots but to be effective, you’ve got to score. As a coach, I have to take responsibility for that decision.”
The Jacks connected on only seven field goals in the half and were shut out from 3-point distance. Defensively, the blue and gold gave up runs of 9-0, 12-2 and 7-0, much of those credited to a turnover-plagued 20 minutes, especially in the early stages.
Coming out of the intermission, the Jacks got five quick points courtesy of a Gabe Rogers triple and an Ephraim Ekanem lay-up, cutting the deficit to 38-24 and forcing a Sac State timeout. However, the momentary euphoria would be short lived as the Hornets used an 11-0 run to further distance themselves and put the Jacks away for good. The closest NAU would get from then on would be at 63-41, but it was only academic.
For the game, the Jacks had another poor shooting night, making only 33 percent of their shots and just 21 percent from deep. Their leading scorers were Rogers and James Douglas, who had 13 and 11, respectively. No other Lumberjack reached double figures. The Jacks turned the ball over 16 times compared to the Hornets’ six giveaways and were outrebouned 43-30, including giving up 15 on the offensive glass.
Not only does the loss extend NAU’s losing streak, it snaps Sac State’s conference losing skid at 11, dating back to last season. The Hornets’ leading scorer was Konner Veteto, who finished with 24 on 9-of-11 shooting.
The Lumberjacks now travel back to Flagstaff for a Monday night match-up with the defending conference champion Northern Colorado Bears. The game is the first of a six-game home stand, an oddity in the normally balanced BSC scheduling system. Tip-off is set for 6:35 p.m. in the Rolle Activity Center.
“That’s a quick turnaround and these kids have had quite a bit of that,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t had a solution for that. I’m sure their [NAU’s} confidence is a bit shaken right now.”