LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Northern Arizona men's basketball led USC at the half by 10 points, but cold shooting in the second half hurt the Lumberjacks as they fell 67-63 on the road.
"I'm really proud of how the team fought, executed and stuck to the game plan," said head coach Jack Murphy. "We'd like to have the first 10 minutes of the second half back. We're better than that. The positive thing is that we improved from our last game. This is the type of energy and execution we need moving forward."
Junior transfer Aaseem Dixon had another solid night as he led NAU with a season-high 20 points and three assists. Junior transfer Quinton Upshur tallied 18 points and four rebounds. Senior Max Jacobsen netted 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. NAU shot 32.4 percent (22-for-68) from the floor, 32.1 percent (9-for-28) from three-point range and 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from the free throw line.
NAU (1-2) took control of the game by scoring first, and it was able to maintain control of the game throughout the half. The Lumberjacks carried a 40-30 lead into the locker room thanks to Dixon and Upshur who scored 15 points apiece in the half; the pair was lights out from long range.
Coming out of the locker room, USC (2-1) was able to make some changes on the offensive end resulting in two quick fouls for Upshur. With Upshur in foul trouble and on the bench, the Lumberjacks had to rely on their bench a lot more than they did in the first half.
USC was able to go on a 14-4 run, as Byron Wesley chose a prime time to make the Trojans' first three-pointer of the game. Wesley's basket from behind the arc tied the game up at 44-All with 12:22 remaining.
NAU was able to chip into the Trojans lead over the next 10 minutes of play, and Jacobsen was able to knock down a pair of free throws with 2:52 remaining to give NAU a 61-60 lead.
After a USC free throw tied the game at 61-All, Jacobsen hit a jumper to give NAU a two-point lead.
A layup by USC's Omar Oraby with 1:03 to go gave the Trojans back the lead. NAU's Dixon had a chance to tie the game up at 66-All with less than 30 seconds left, but the shot was off the mark and USC came up with the rebound. The Trojans went to the free throw line and made one of two to extend their lead to four points with eight seconds left. The lead would hold for USC as it earned the win tonight.
Wesley led USC with 31 points and nine rebounds, as he was the only Trojan to score in double figures. USC shot 44.2 percent (23-for-52) from the floor, 16.7 percent (2-for-12) from three-point range and 52.8 percent (19-of-36) from the charity stripe.
NAU will hit the court again on Sunday, Nov. 17 with a game at Loyola Marymount. Tip-off versus the Lions is set for 5 p.m.
Notes: Aaseem Dixon became the first NAU player this season to pass the 20-point threshold…Dixon, Upshur and Jacobsen have all scored in double figures in every game so far this season…NAU recorded a season-high nine three pointers.