TUCSON, Ariz. – Christmas did not come early for the Northern Arizona men's basketball team as they fell to the No. 1 team in the nation, Arizona, by a score of 77-44. The Lumberjacks battled all throughout the game and in the second half, NAU was able to hang with the best team in the country as UofA barely outscored NAU 36-27.
"This is the best defensive team I have ever seen here at Arizona," said head coach Jack Murphy. "As tough as that team is, I am proud of the way we competed until the end of the game."
The Lumberjacks battled hard all throughout the game against the Wildcats and were tied with the best team in the country midway through the first half but junior guard Nick Johnson led the Wildcats with 14 points in the first half to take a 41-17 lead.
Junior guard Aaseem Dixon started the first half with two three-pointers and junior forward Gaellan Bewernick also chipped in six points in the first half. The Lumberjacks received scoring from nine different players in tonight's game and Dixon led NAU with nine points.
The offense picked up for the Lumberjacks in the second half as they were able to put up 27 points in the second half against an exceptional defensive team.
The Wildcats had a huge advantage at the free throw line and were able to make 18 free throws throughout the entire game.
"We got better as a team tonight and this is just another step up the ladder," said Bewernick. "Our main focus is conference season and this game is just another piece for us to get ready for the Big Sky."
Northern Arizona now turns its attention to conference play where they will now face Big Sky opponents for the remainder of the season.
"We have competed in every game this season," said Murphy. "We are building the program and getting better through the development of our leadership."
The Lumberjacks will travel to Montana to begin 2014 on the road, January 2 in their quest of a Big Sky Conference Championship.