Opponent: Cal State Northridge (Thursday, Dec. 19/8:00 p.m.)
Location: The Matadome - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: www.gomatadors.com
Opponent: Pepperdine (Saturday, Dec. 21/4:30 p.m.)
Location: Firestone Fieldhouse - Malibu, Calif.
Live Stats: www.pepperdinesports.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona women's basketball team hits the road one last time before the start of Big Sky play this weekend with games at Cal State Northridge on Thursday and Pepperdine on Saturday. The Lumberjacks will then return home for one final non-conference game versus LIU Brooklyn on Dec. 30 before opening up conference play on Jan. 2 versus Montana.
The Lumberjacks head to the state of California fresh off a 85-65 victory over UT Arlington last Saturday in their first home game in over a month. The victory was the team's third in their last four games to even their record to 3-3 and they received double-digit scoring efforts by four players. Senior Amanda Frost and freshman Brittani Lusain each scored 18, while juniors Raven Anderson had 16 and Erikka Banks had 15. Freshman Catelyn Preston added a career-high seven off the bench.
Series History: For one game, the Lumberjacks will renew an old conference rivalry with Cal State Northridge, who was a member of the Big Sky from 1996-2001. The Lumberjacks last played the Matadors during the 2003-04 season at home in a game they won 68-55. NAU has won the last five meetings between the two schools and holds an all-time 15-7 advantage over Cal State Northridge.
NAU has not had the same success with Pepperdine as the Waves have won the last three meetings to pull ahead all-time 5-3. The two schools last faced in the 2009-10 season opener for both teams in Malibu, Calif. and Pepperdine cruised to a 96-67 victory. All three Lumberjack victories in the series have come away from the Waves' home facility though as NAU is 0-3 all-time in Malibu.
Coach Sue Darling Quote for the Week: "It was nice to be back at home in the Skydome last week but this is a really important week. Right now we're focusing on finals and then we're heading out to play Northridge and Pepperdine, both of whom are quality teams. Northridge is guard-oriented so we need to do a good job of keeping them out of the paint and penetrating. Pepperdine puts points up and they have a quality offense and defense. It'll be a great trip for us."
About Cal State Northridge (3-7, 0-0 Big West): Cal State Northridge snapped its five-game losing streak in a big way last week as it edged out USC, 65-64, at home on Dec. 10. The victory was the Matadors' first this season at home and first since Nov. 19 as they notched a victory over a Pac-12 school for the second consecutive year. NAU will be Cal State Northridge's fourth Big Sky opponent this season as CSUN has fallen to Sacramento State, Montana State and Eastern Washington all on the road.
Junior Ashlee Guay led the Matadors with 16 points, six assists and five rebounds in their win over USC. Guay leads the team with 15.9 points per game and is also the team leader in assists and steals, while shooting 41 percent from three-point range. Junior Cinnamon Lister is just behind at 15.2 points per game and fellow junior Camille Mahlknecht is averaging 7.6 points, 6.7 rebounds a team-best 2.6 blocks per game.
About Pepperdine (3-7, 0-0 West Coast): After starting the season 2-1 including a four-point loss at UCLA, Pepperdine begins Saturday's game with losses six of its last seven. The Waves picked up their first win in six games at UC Riverside on Dec. 6, but saw their second half rally come up just shy versus Cal Poly, 80-77, Monday night at home. Pepperdine will be playing consecutive home games for the first time this season and it is just their fourth home game this season.
The Waves are led by junior Bria Richardson who does a bunch of everything for the team. She leads the team in points (17.6 per game), assists (48), steals (27) and blocks (6) while playing a team-high 35.9 points per game. Sophomore Keitra Wallace, Pepperdine's second-leading scorer at 13.3 per game, scored a game-high 24 points on Monday and is one of four players averaging double-figures. Junior Ea Shoushtari averages 12.2 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds per contest.
Laying It Up: The Lumberjacks lead the Big Sky with a .458 team field goal percentage, which ranks 26th in the country, in large part because the team has shown a great ability recently to get layups. Fantastic ball movement has resulted in a host of layups - points which Coach Darling calls the easiest in the game - and has played a big role in the Lumberjacks winning three of their last four games. NAU shot 59.2 percent from the field on Saturday versus UT Arlington, the fifth-highest field goal percentage in school history, and 68.2 percent in the first half, which equaled the third-best ever field goal percentage in a half. The Lumberjacks notched 46 points in the paint.
Lumberjacks in the National Rankings: In addition to ranking 26th in the country in team field goal percentage, the Lumberjacks have two of their players among the nation's elite. Frost is shooting a Big Sky-best 95.2 percent from the line, which is the sixth-best clip in the nation, while Lusain ranks 26th nationally in assists at 6.0 per game.
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