FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's basketball team returned home for the first time in over a month and posted a big first half to defeat UT Arlington, 85-65, Saturday morning in the Walkup Skydome. The win was the Lumberjacks' third in their last four contests and it evened their season record to 3-3.
"Their team is much better than their record and we came out and played good defense and rebounded well in the first half to build ourselves a lead," said head coach Sue Darling. "What I really like right now is that we have a lot of kids contributing both offensively and defensively. It was a quality win."
Junior Raven Anderson hit two free throws on the game's first possession after getting fouled and the Lumberjacks were off to races from there. UT Arlington was hampered by foul trouble in the first half and NAU took clear advantage of that, knocking down 16-of-18 attempts from the charity stripe. The Lumberjacks never trailed at any point of the game and took a huge 48-32 lead into the half.
During the game's first 20 minutes, the Lumberjacks were not only outstanding at the free throw line, but they shot 68.2 percent from the field and got a number of layups for easy scores. Senior Amanda Frost could not miss as she hit all three of her field goal attempts and seven free throw attempts to 14 first half points to lead the Lumberjacks.
The Mavericks tried to stem the tide in the second half but was never able to close the gap significantly. NAU maintained a steady 20-point lead throughout the majority of the final period and UT Arlington would only get as close as 17.
NAU clicked on all cylinders on both ends of the court as the Big Sky's leader in team field goal percentage finished the game shooting 59.2 percent from the field. Meanwhile, UT Arlington shot just 33.3 percent for the game. Each team had four players in double-figure points with Frost and freshman Brittani Lusain each recording a game-high 18 points. Anderson and junior Erikka Banks finished with 16 and 15 points respectively as the Lumberjacks took advantage of 46 points in the paint.
Lusain's 18 points were a career-high and she also added a team-high seven rebounds and six assists. Fellow classmates Priscilla Brooks (eight points, six rebounds, three blocks) and Catelyn Preston (career-high seven points) contributed off the bench as well.
Despite being outrebounded 33-28 on the glass, NAU was a stellar 24-of-28 from the line and posted their best clip of the season – 85.7 percent – a big improvement off its season average of 62.1 percent.
"We've done a good job in some games shooting free throws and we've laid an egg in other games," Darling said. "Today was a great day and our team has been focusing on it. The two easiest shots in basketball are layups and free throws. That's what we're trying to get and that's what we have to make."
NAU will hit the road for its final non-conference trip of the season next week. The Lumberjacks will play at Cal State Northridge on Thursday and at Pepperdine on Saturday before returning home to host LIU Brooklyn on Dec. 30.