OGDEN, Utah – The senior duo of Ako Kaluna and Jordyn Martin carried Northern Arizona on the road tonight in Ogden, Utah, as the Lumberjacks fell to Big Sky leader Weber State, 86-80, at the Dee Events Center.
"I thought our guys battled until the end," said head coach Jack Murphy. "There are a few plays at the end we would like to have back. We need to look for that extra pass. Ako and Jordan did an astounding job in the paint. We were down 21 points with eight and a half to go, and it still came down to the wire. The consistent offensive effort from Ako is really helping us, along with Jordyn's play."
NAU trailed Weber State by 21 points midway in the second half, but patience was key for the Lumberjacks who began to chip away at the Wildcats. Four minutes later after an Isaiah Thomas layup and a Mike Green three-point play, NAU cut Weber State's lead to 10 points.
Kaluna converted a three-point play, Aziz Seck added a layup for NAU, and the Wildcat fans became uneasy with one minute remaining. Weber State's Kyndahl Hill made a pair of free throws with 14 seconds to go, while a late three by Marcus DeBerry with 11 seconds left would be the final shot of the night.
NAU outscored Weber State in the paint, had more bench points and second chance points, and outrebounded the Wildcats. If there were a few more minutes left on the clock, the outcome could have been in favor of the Lumberjacks.
Weber State hit four of its first six 3-point attempts in the first half, before finishing the period 5-for-9. The Wildcats led by as many as 12 points before NAU went on an 8-0 run to trim the Wildcats's lead to 34-30. NAU's Kaluna had 15 points and five rebounds in the first half to lead a Lumberjack squad that shot 41.2 percent from the field. The home team found an offensive rhythm to close out the half and the Wildcats entered the locker room up 40-32.
Kaluna notched his second 20-point scoring game of the season finishing with a season-high 25 points, in addition to grabbing nine boards. Martin registered his second straight double-double as he recorded 17 points and tied his season-high of 16 rebounds. NAU shot 43.4 percent from the floor and converted eight of 13 free-throw attempts.
Zach Braxton tallied 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Jeremy Senglin added 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting for Weber State. The Wildcats – the second best 3-point field goal percentage team in the nation – finished the game 9-for-18 behind the arc for 50 percent.
NAU returns to Flagstaff next week to host Montana State (Feb. 9) and Montana (Feb. 11) at the Walkup Skydome. It will be the first meeting this season for the Lumberjacks versus the two Montana teams.