FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – For the second game in a row, the Northern Arizona women's basketball team could not find their big breakthrough as they suffered another tough loss, 91-83, at the hands of North Dakota Saturday night. Senior Amanda Frost dropped another 30 points and junior Raven Anderson equaled her career-high of 18 points, but the Lumberjacks could not climb past UND, getting as close as two with 2:32 to play.
"Our break through is coming," said head coach Sue Darling. "We are battling and fighting for every single win. We've won easily and lost easily, so these last two games will propel us into our break through. Once we break through, the flood gates will open. I love our team; they're gritty and they play with persistence and at the end of the day, we're going to get it."
Frost and Anderson, two of the team's veterans, came out firing from the start as they combined for nine of the team's first 12 points leading to a 12-8 lead at the first media timeout. The strong start was just the beginning of Anderson's finest game of the season as she had a game-high 12 points at the half although the Lumberjacks trailed by four, 44-40, after 20 minutes of play.
The Lumberjacks led by as many as six in the first half, which turned out to be their largest lead of the game, and then found themselves trailing by as much as seven. Down 36-30, a three-pointer by freshman Avonna Lee started a 7-2 run that brought them back to 38-37 and they were down just 41-40 before UND's Siri Burck's triple sent the teams into the locker rooms.
North Dakota would lead throughout the second half, but every time it tried to pull away, NAU answered the call with a run to close the gap. After keeping the score close through the opening minutes of the second half, UND held the largest advantage of the game, 65-55, with 12:11 to go. Frost caught fire though and powered NAU back with 10 points over the next five minutes to close the deficit to 74-71.
NAU got within two points of the lead twice as the game wound to an end, once at the 4:05 mark and the final time with 2:32 left following a three-point play by junior Erikka Banks. Following Banks' conversion, the Lumberjacks trailed 84-82 only for UND to finish the game on a 7-1 run to deal the Lumberjacks their second close defeat this week after their 86-82 overtime loss to Northern Colorado on Thursday.
"I feel like we can compete with anybody and it's anybody's game at this point," Anderson said. "North Dakota was number-one (in the conference) and we could take it. I learned a lot the last two games. We have a good team, a tough team, and we'll be good."
The Lumberjacks shot a high percentage once again at 47.5 percent, but allowed UND to shoot 51.9 percent from the field. Both teams shot upwards of 50 percent from three-point range, yet the difference came at the free-throw line as the visitors knocked down 11 more free-throws. The Lumberjacks committed a season-high 28 fouls and had three players foul out while also being outrebounded 35-27.
Frost moved into seventh all-time in school history in three-point makes, equaling her career-high with six to up her career total to 109. She shot 12-of-22 and 6-of-10 from long distance for her fourth 30-point game of the season and third in the last two weeks.
Anderson was plagued with foul trouble before fouling out, yet set a season-high with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting in addition to a career-high six free-throws. Banks just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds and Lusain had 10 points.
NAU (5-12, 2-6 Big Sky) travels to Weber State next Thursday and Idaho State next Saturday.