Fighting Hawks Narrowly Get Past NAU, 68-63

Marcus DeBerry
Marcus DeBerry

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Northern Arizona (3-12, 0-2 BSC) fought hard at North Dakota (7-6, 2-1 BSC), but fell to the Fighting Hawks 68-63 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in its first road game of Big Sky play.

"When our kids compete and play hard, we compete," said head coach Jack Murphy. "Tonight we played a good North Dakota team and I thought for the most part we did a good job against them. Our low post game has to get better. We must finish plays around the rim."

The Fighting Hawks led by as many as nine points in the first half with 8:43 to go and maintained their lead into halftime going into the locker room with a 33-26 advantage.

North Dakota did a good job at forcing NAU to commit turnovers, as the Lumberjacks had 13 on the stat sheet in the first period, resulting in 12 points in favor of the Fighting Hawks.

The home team managed to score 20 of its 33 first half points in the paint and another six from the charity stripe.

NAU's bright spot to start the game was its ability to spread the ball. Six different players scored for the Lumberjacks with Marcus DeBerry leading the way with eight points, including a pair of treys.

DeBerry continued his lights out shooting in the second half, and a triple by the Tennessee native midway through the period gave the Lumberjacks their first lead of the night at 39-37.

The Lumberjacks energy on both ends of the court tonight in the second half was explosive. NAU took better control of the ball with just three turnovers in the first 14 minutes of the half.

The final six minutes of the game saw the Lumberjacks dig deep. JoJo Anderson scored four straight points for NAU to bring the Lumberjacks to within four points with under four minutes left to play.

DeBerry hit a 3-pointer to trim UND's lead to 65-63 with one minute remaining, followed by a Fighting Hawks turnover to keep the Lumberjacks in the game. Geno Crandall made two free throws for UND with 15.1 seconds on the clock and Quinton Hooker made a free throw to close out the scoring and seal the win for the Fighting Hawks.

Hooker led all players with 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting, while Conner Avants chipped in 17 points and nine rebounds.

DeBerry tied his career-high of 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting for the Lumberjacks, including a career-high five made 3-pointers. Mike Green had 10 points and Jordyn Martin added nine points and three rebounds.

NAU continues road play this week at Northern Colorado. The Lumberjacks and Bears will tip off at 7 p.m. MST on Saturday in Greeley.

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