'Jacks Looking for Breakthrough at Weber State, Idaho State
Opponent: Weber State (Thursday, Jan. 30/7:00 p.m.)
Location: Ogden, Utah
Live Stats: www.weberstatesports.com
Opponent: Idaho State (Saturday, Feb. 1/2:00 p.m.)
Location: Pocatello, Idaho
Live Stats: www.isubengals.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona women's basketball team heads out to Weber State and Idaho State this Thursday and Saturday respectively in search of their breakthrough that evaded their grasp last week. The Lumberjacks may just be 2-6 in conference but standing two wins away from the middle of the pack, they could use a strong road trip this week to conclude the first half of the Big Sky season.
The Lumberjacks dropped a pair of heartbreaking losses at home last week to Northern Colorado and North Dakota in games that were not decided until the final minutes. Their contest versus UNC went into overtime after the Bears knocked down a buzzer-beating three-pointer and the Lumberjacks trailed UND by just two points with 2:32 to play. Senior Amanda Frost continued her torrid play of late with two more 30-point games and the Lumberjacks shot a combined 50 percent from the field for the week, but was denied of wins by a total of 12 points.
Series History: The Lumberjacks have won the last six meetings against Weber State over the last three years including a pair of double-digit wins last season. NAU defeated Weber State, 76-55, in Flagstaff last year in the first of two meetings, building a 10-point halftime lead and maintaining a double-digit lead throughout the second half while shooting 46.2 percent for the game. In their final road game of the season, the Lumberjacks followed with a 65-49 victory in Ogden, leading wire-to-wire. Amanda Frost (12 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Erikka Banks (13 points, nine rebounds) had great games as NAU picked up their fourth consecutive win in the series away from home. Weber State still holds the overall edge, 41-31, despite NAU's recent success.
On the flip side, the Lumberjacks have dropped four straight to Idaho State and have won just twice in the last five seasons. Their last win in Pocatello came on Jan. 22, 2009 and the Bengals hold a 35-24 all-time series lead over the Lumberjacks. Last season, NAU fell 52-48 at home in a game in which both teams struggled offensively shooting less than 36 percent. In that game the Lumberjacks did not have a player score in double-figures yet trailed by just one point with 5:12 to play. NAU then hit the road and lost 67-46 after shooting only 23 percent for the game. Frost led the team with 11 points and the Lumberjacks shot 22-of-29 from the free-throw line.
Audio Coverage: Both of this week's games will have a live audio stream of the game available via Stretch Internet. Assistant Director for Athletics Communications Stayson Isobe will handle play-by-play duties with a pregame show beginning 20 minutes prior to tipoff (6:40 p.m. on Thursday, 1:40 p.m. on Saturday). The stream can be found here.
Coach Sue Darling Quote of the Week: "Last week was tough. We played two quality teams at home and lost really close games. We took some great stuff away from those games even if they were losses. We did some really nice things offensively but at the end of the day we need to play better defense. That's our focus for this week with Weber State on Thursday and Idaho State on Saturday. We're going to ramp up our Lumberjack defense when we head out on the road this week."
About Weber State (4-13, 0-8 Big Sky): Weber State started the season 4-3 but has since lost its last 10 as it enters the weekend looking for its first conference victory. The Wildcats suffered defeats at Montana State, 87-71, and Montana, 68-52, last week to finish off a four-game road trip. All four of Weber State's victories this season have come on its home court.
The Wildcats are one of the better defensive teams in the conference as they rank fourth in scoring defense, third in steals and second in turnover margin. Defensively, sophomore Regina Okoye leads the charge with 2.6 steals per game, which ranks third in the conference, while also averaging a block per game. Offensively, sophomore Desiree Ramos runs the show with team-bests of 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game, ranking fifth in the Big Sky in assists.
About Idaho State (6-11, 4-4 Big Sky): Idaho State is coming off a big win at Montana State, 74-63, in which it handed the conference-leading Bobcats their second Big Sky defeat. The win continued a recent streak for the Bengals in which they have now won three of their last four to even their conference mark to 4-4 this season.
The Bengals are last in the conference in scoring at 59.4 points per game, but they make up for it on the defensive end where they allow just 65.2 points and opponents shoot 38.3 percent, both of which rank second in the Big Sky. Senior Lindsey Reed averages team-bests of 14.5 points and 3.6 assists per game and senior Jessica Tingey leads five players averaging at least four rebounds per game with 6.4 per game. As a team, Idaho State is third in the conference in rebounding.
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