NAU Comeback Falls Short in Quarterfinals of Big Sky Tournament
OGDEN, Utah – The third-seeded Northern Arizona (15-17) men's basketball team left it all on the floor tonight, but it's comeback fell just short as No. 6 seed Northern Colorado (18-12) was able to pull off the upset. The Bears led by as many as 20 points in the second half, and yet NAU had a chance to tie or win it at the buzzer. Northern Colorado was able to escape with the 62-60 victory over NAU at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah.
"We had to fight and claw to get back in the game," said head coach Jack Murphy. "I'm very proud of our team and the way they performed tonight and all year. The guys really put pressure on Northern Colorado tonight."
It was a rough first half for Northern Arizona as the Lumberjacks saw themselves down 39-25 at halftime. Max Jacobsen led NAU with nine points, but the Lumberjacks missed the presence of Gaellan Bewernick who left the game early in the first half with an injury.
The second half was a bit of a different story as NAU was able to get better as the game went on. The Lumberjacks inched back slowly, and Aaseem Dixon hit back-to-back triples to cut Northern Colorado's lead to 48-35 with 14:33 left to play. After a made free throw by Kris Yanku, the Bears went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 56-36.
NAU found a surge of its own as it went on a 14-0 run to trim Northern Colorado's lead to two, which got the fans in the building excited. Northern Colorado's Derrick Barden registered a layup with 2:12 to go.
Yanku stepped to the free throw line with 56 seconds left and knocked down a pair of free throws to bring NAU to within two points. After a missed layup by Northern Colorado, the Lumberjacks called a timeout with 10 seconds left in the game and a chance at the last shot.
The Lumberjacks were able to get a look in the paint, but the ball bounced off the rim as time expired, ending NAU's season.
Dixon led NAU with 20 points, including six three-pointers. Jacobsen, a senior, scored 18 points and pulled down five rebounds in his last outing as a Lumberjack. Yanku rounded out the top scorers with 12 points and four assists.
Barden led UNC with 15 points, while Tevin Svihovec added 14 and Tate Unruh had 12. The Bears shot 46.2 percent from the floor and 83.3 percent from the free throw line.
Tonight's appearance was the second straight in the tournament for the Lumberjacks and Murphy.
Notes: 22nd Big Sky Tournament appearance for Northern Arizona…Double figure scoring games: Max Jacobsen (20)…UNC led by as many as 20 points with 9:15 left to play…Jacobsen, a senior from Lake Oswego, Ore. Finished his career at NAU with 727 points, 309 rebounds and 33 blocked shots...Center Len Springs finished the season with 58 blocked shots to tie for third all-time on the NAU season charts.