Lumberjacks drop final road game, cap worst road record in 20 years
A career-high 24 points by sophomore Khyra Conerly and a third straight 20 point effort from junior Amy Patton could not push the NAU women’s basketball team to victory as it fell to the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (CSB) 86-77.
“I have to give Bakersfield credit; they did a really good job at finding open people and they hit some shots that they hadn’t been hitting,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “They really pressured us; you could tell that was the game plan going in. They were in our shorts from the minute you touched the ball.”
The Lumberjacks’ loss furthered their struggle on the road in the past five seasons, especially in non-conference play. NAU’s last non-conference win away from Flagstaff came in December 2008 when NAU defeated the University of Hawaii on a neutral court in Tempe, Ariz.
The last non-conference road win against a team in front of their home crowd came in December 2006, when the Lumberjacks emerged victorious at Loyola Marymount 74-58.
“A game like a San Jose State or a Bakersfield, I guess I don’t have an answer,” Kelly said. “Those are two teams that I feel like if we play 10 times, were going to win eight or nine of them. Some of it is a confidence thing; things aren’t always going to go your way on the road.”
NAU will also finish with its worst road record, 1-14, since the 1992-93 season when the Lumberjacks finished 0-13 on the road.
Similar to its previous game against Montana State, NAU (8-18, 3-11 Big Sky Conference) played even with CSB (6-21) into the second half. But the Roadrunners rode an 11-0 run to take a 61-50 lead over the Lumberjacks and held it for the remainder of the game.
NAU rallied to cut the lead to three with 1:25 left in the game, but CSB hit 10-of-10 free throws down the final stretch to clinch the win.
“It was definitely a game that we were in a position to win, and we weren’t able to make the plays down the stretch that they were,” Kelly said.
The Roadrunners finished the game 32-of-40 from the line to the Lumberjacks’ 19-of-24.
“I don’t think that we did a good job defensively,” Kelly said. “Obviously [we] fouled way too many times, kind of a broken record with us.”
Along with Conerly’s and Patton’s strong games, sophomore Amanda Frost scored 16 points and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds. Conerly added five rebounds and five steals. Patton totaled seven rebounds and with the 23 points is now averaging 21.6 points for her past five games.
However, Kelly felt the high scoring numbers actually played into the hands of CSB’s style of play.
“I thought it was really key that we control the style and tempo of the game,” Kelly said. “We played their style of game; we had to make adjustments based on what they were doing.”
The trio’s numbers were not matched by the rest of the Lumberjacks lineup, who totaled 14 points, with starters Tyler Stephens-Jenkins and Aubrey Davis combining for two points on 1-of-11 shooting.
“Those are your two juniors in the starting lineup,” Kelly said. “To go 1-for-11, you just expect them to make some of those shots.”
The Lumberjacks now return home for a pair of games to close out the season, the first on Feb. 27 against the Northern Colorado Bears (16-10, 8-5 BSC).
“We got to come home and play two good games to wrap up the season,” Kelly said. “It’s not the season that we wanted, but it’s the season that we dealt ourselves. Now we have to look forward and try to get ready for the seasons ahead.”