Men’s hoops rally falls short in overtime
Monday night, the NAU men’s basketball team tied a record it never wanted to see again.
After rallying from a consistent deficit against the Northern Colorado Bears, the Lumberjacks were not able to close the deal, falling 64-62 in an overtime contest. The loss extends the Jacks’ losing streak to nine conference games, equaling a mark set during the 1988-89 season.
“They showed a better effort throughout the game than we’ve seen the last two outings,” said interim head coach Dave Brown. “We felt like their effort right at the end was monumental. We had some opportunities late to win it but the ball just didn’t go for us. We can’t look back.”
Two nights after suffering a 31-point loss at the hands of Sacramento State, the Jacks came out looking to set the tone and shake off the losing stigma. They played the defending Big Sky Conference well enough, sticking with NC for the first 20 minutes. Though NAU only held a lead three times, each time by just two points, they never let NC get ahead by more than six at any point during the half. Freshman guard James Douglas led all scorers at the break with 10 while sophomore guard Michael Dunn had a nice half with eight points and six rebounds.
“I just wanted to help my team any way I could,” Dunn said. “Just help my team out. I just try to get in there and do my part.”
However, the second half was a bit different as the Bears attempted to pull ahead and continue the Lumberjacks’ woes. NC went up by as much as nine points with just over 11 minutes to play before the Jacks closed it to five with 10 minutes left. The Bears then pushed their advantage back to nine points at 54-45 with 3:49 to play. But it was at that moment that the Jacks found it within themselves to make a push and attempt to snap their losing skid.
The Jacks went on a 10-0 run, powered by a couple of buckets from Dunn and a three from Douglas and also the product of one of Brown’s favorite weapons — the full-court press. The push gave the Jacks a one-point lead with a minute to play. A couple of missed opportunities by NC forced the Bears to foul, sending junior point guard Stallon Saldivar to the line, where he made one of two, giving the Bears a chance. NC converted a lay-up on the other end with seven seconds left, giving NAU the ball back. But, Douglas committed an offensive foul and gave up possession. The Bears potential game-winning lay-up was blocked by senior forward Durrell Norman at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
“We just fed off the energy from the fans,” Dunn said. “Its good to be home and playing in front of these guys. We don’t have that on the road. If we don’t have the energy, its tough to come back. It was just us not wanting to quit and us wanting to put on a show and show everybody that we are a team and that we can play.”
In the extra session, the back-and-forth action would continue. The Bears struck first but a pair of free throws from Norman and a lay-up by Saldivar gave the Jacks the lead. A couple of possessions later, Douglas once again put the Jacks up by one at 62-61 with a jumper. However, a Bears lay-up gave them the lead for good, as Douglas missed an off-balance jump shot at the buzzer.
“We showed some heart we hadn’t seen in a while,” Douglas said. “Obviously the last shot wasn’t a good look.”
Douglas finished with 22 points for the night while Dunn just missed a double-double, finishing with 13 points and nine boards.
NAU will now attempt to snap their losing streak once more Thursday night against Eastern Washington. Tip time is set for 6:35 p.m. in the Rolle Activity Center. The Eagles have already beaten the Jacks this year by a score of 76-59.