Wildcats Spoil Lumberjacks, Frost's Senior Day, 74-73
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's basketball team (9-18, 6-12 Big Sky) led by as much as 13 with 5:02 left in the game, but Weber State spoiled Senior Day for the Lumberjacks stealing a 74-73 decision Saturday night. The Wildcats' Kalie Matthews hit a free throw with 0.2 seconds to send NAU to a loss in its home finale.
"When it comes down to the end, you never know which way the ball is going to bounce and it bounced their way tonight," said head coach Sue Darling. "We were in position to win the game and it didn't happen. We need to hit the road, play our game and feel like champions at the end. We're very disappointed right now, but it's a matter of putting our best effort out there and get a couple of wins at the end."
Saturday was the final home game for senior Amanda Frost and the team captain went out with a strong effort in defeat. After stealing a Weber State pass, Frost went coast to coast to cross the 1,000 career point mark with 7:10 left in the first half. That layup came in the middle of a stretch of eight points by Frost that gave NAU a 32-20 lead with 5:25 before half.
Behind strong play by juniors Raven Anderson and Erikka Banks as well as Frost, all of whom went into halftime with eight points apiece, the Lumberjacks led at the midway point by four, 36-32. The Lumberjacks jumped on the Wildcats early in the second half and saw their lead extend out to 11 just two minutes into the half, forcing a Weber State timeout.
The Lumberjacks maintained a comfortable lead throughout and after seeing their advantage cut to five, they responded with a 7-0 run to push it back out to 12. Anderson's layup gave NAU a 70-57 lead with 5:02 left in the game before the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes to close within four.
A pair of Weber State free throws gave them a 73-72 edge with 18 seconds left before Anderson was fouled on the ensuing NAU possession. She would split the pair though to tie the game before the fateful final possession. Anderson blocked Regina Okoye's shot attempt out of bounds, giving Weber State possession with 0.8 seconds left. Off the inbound pass, Matthews was fouled giving the Wildcats a chance to play spoiler. She would make the first of two and that proved to be the game.
Both teams shot nearly identical percentages – Weber State held a slim 47.5-47.4 percent advantage – but the Wildcats capitalized on 17 offensive rebounds to hold a commanding 23-3 edge in second chance points.
Anderson finished the game with a career-high 24 points, her third straight 20 point game and the third in a row in which she has set a new career-best – while shooting 11-of-12 from the field. Freshman Brittani Lusain finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
In her final home game, Frost finished with 18 points and a career-high tying nine assists. She also recorded a career-best seven steals.
"Everyone wanted to win for me but I wanted to win for them and coming up short doesn't make me want to think about 1,000 points," Frost said. "Our team fought hard. It's always the best playing in front of my family. I'm never going to take anything negative away from this team."
NAU will wrap up its season next week on the road. It will play at Montana State on Thursday in Bozeman, Mont. before concluding at Montana in Missoula, Mont. on Saturday.