Opponent: North Dakota (Thursday, Feb. 20/6:00 p.m.)
Location: Grand Forks, N.D.
Live Stats: www.undsports.com
Opponent: Northern Colorado (Saturday, Feb. 22/2:00 p.m.)
Location: Greeley, Colo.
Live Stats: www.uncbears.com
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona women's basketball team notched two critical wins at home last week and with their eyes squarely on ascending up the Big Sky standings they will hit the road once again this week. The Lumberjacks will play Big Sky leading North Dakota Thursday in Grand Forks, N.D. at 6 p.m. and then will travel to Greeley, Colo. to play Northern Colorado, one of three teams directly ahead of them in the standings, on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Junior Erikka Banks posted a career-high 31 points and tallied her sixth double-double of the season in NAU's 86-78 victory over Eastern Washington last Saturday. Senior Amanda Frost led the Lumberjacks with 28 points in their 84-61 win over Portland State last Thursday. Although the Lumberjacks played well offensively, it was their defensive efforts that were instrumental in their two wins. Portland State and Eastern Washington combined to shoot 39 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from three-point range.
Series History: On Jan. 23, NAU dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Northern Colorado. 86-82, despite leading by 10 at halftime and five with 3:35 left. The Bears' Lindsay Mallon sent the game into overtime with a buzzer-beating three and they sealed the win in the extra period with nine of their 13 overtime points coming at the free-throw line. Amanda Frost led the Lumberjacks with 31 points to go along with seven assists and four steals. The Lumberjacks had three others in double-figures and Priscilla Brooks swatted four shots off the bench. The loss pushed NAU's losing streak to Northern Colorado to nine and it is just 3-16 all-time versus the Bears with just one win in Greeley.
Two nights later, the Lumberjacks fell to North Dakota, 91-83. Raven Anderson posted a season-best 18 points, equaling her career-high, but the Lumberjacks could never get over the hump against UND. They trailed by four at halftime before falling behind by as many as 10 in the second half. NAU closed the gap to two with 2:32 remaining, but North Dakota finished the game on a 7-1 run. Frost tied her career-best with six threes en route to 30 points. The Lumberjacks are 1-4 all-time versus UND and is 0-2 in Grand Forks.
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 (5:40 p.m. on Thursday, 1:40 p.m. on Saturday). The stream can be found here.
Coach Sue Darling Quote of the Week: "We've been getting better and better. Everyone knows that our offense has been very good this season and our defensively is coming around. We also had really great energy over the weekend and great effort and that really put us over the edge. We know where we are right now. We have a quality team and we feel that we can beat anyone in the league, but at the same time we have respect for everyone and anyone can beat us. It's a matter of us bringing our game when we go on the road. It's a good time for us to be peaking."
About North Dakota (16-8, 11-4 Big Sky): North Dakota had a rough week in the state of Montana last weekend as it dropped both of its games at Montana State, 78-67, and Montana, 52-49. The two losses matched UND's Big Sky loss total all season and it fell into a three-way tie for first in the conference in the loss column at 11-4. UND had won its previous five games and is 11-1 at home this season, 7-1 in conference play with its only loss to Montana State on Jan. 18.
North Dakota rebounds the basketball better than anyone in the conference as it leads the conference in rebounding at 44.3 per game, opponent rebounding at 33.8 and rebound margin at +10.5. UND outrebounded NAU in the first meeting in Flagstaff, 35-27, and shot 51.9 percent in the victory including 10-of-19 from three-point range. Senior Madi Buck, the fourth leading scorer in the Big Sky at 16.1 points per game, led UND with 25 points and 12 rebounds in the victory. Sophomore Makilah Dyer also scored 23 points. Sophomore Mia Loyd, the conference's leading rebounder at 9.2 boards per game and team's second-leading scorer with 14.2 points, did not play.
About Northern Colorado (13-11, 7-8 Big Sky): Northern Colorado earned a split last week, successfully rebounding from a 61-55 loss at Montana with a 65-59 victory at Montana State. In their victory over the Bobcats, the Bears withstood a furious rally by Montana State and owned a commanding 48-26 rebounding edge. Northern Colorado is one of three teams with seven wins occupying the six through eight spots in the conference standings at 7-8.
Junior Stephanie Lee scored a career-high 36 points in UNC's win over MSU and is the conference's second leading scorer at 19.9 points per game. She scored 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and recorded three blocks in the Bears' win over the Lumberjacks last month in Flagstaff. Lee is also second in the Big Sky with 2.1 blocks per game. Senior Kim Lockridge scored 21 points in the first meeting between the two teams and is the team's leading rebounder at 6.1 per game. Junior Lindsay Mallon leads the team in assists (3.8 per game) and steals (1.9 per game).
Quest for 1,000: Senior Amanda Frost's chase for 1,000 points is officially on as she stands at 930 points with at least six regular season games remaining in her career. She would become the 14th player in school history to join the 1,000 point club. In her pursuit of reaching the milestone, the senior from Riverside, Calif. is on pace to shatter the NAU single-season scoring record as she sits at 503 points, 36 points shy of Amy Patton's record 539 points set during the 2009-10 season.
Complete Effort: In their two wins last week, NAU's focus on defensive improvement finally paid off as it strung together two of its finest performances all season. In their 84-61 win over Portland State on Feb. 13, the Lumberjacks held an opponent under 70 points for the first time in seven games with the 61 points marking the second-lowest total this season. The Vikings made just 19 baskets, the fewest allowed by the Lumberjacks this season, and shot just 38 percent from the field for the game. The Lumberjacks improved to 5-1 this season when keeping a team under 70 points and 3-1 when their opponent shoots less than 40 percent from the field. NAU followed that up by limiting Eastern Washington to 40 percent shooting in an 86-78 win on Feb. 15. The Eagles made just 20 field goals, tied for the second-fewest allowed by the Lumberjacks. For the two games, Portland State and Eastern Washington combined to shoot just 38 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from behind the arc.
This was in addition to the Lumberjacks' season-long offensive prowess. NAU shot 50 percent from the field, 40.6 percent from long distance and 81 percent from the free-throw line. Against Portland State, the Lumberjacks equaled their season-high with nine made three-pointers and six players recorded double-digit points for the second time this season.
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