'Jacks Crush Antelope Valley, 109-60, to Improve to 2-0 in Record Fashion

Rene Coggins
Rene Coggins

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – For the first time in nine years and only the sixth time in program history, the Northern Arizona women's basketball team is 2-0. To do so, the Lumberjacks poured it on Antelope Valley in record fashion, crushing the Pioneers, 109-60. NAU set a school record for points in a game and had six players in double-figures in what proved to be a resounding and successful home opener in the Rolle Activity Center.

"All preseason I said I liked our team's experience and depth," said interim head coach Robyne Bostick. "Any given game, we have players who can step up and score. You saw that today, and depending on what style of game it is and who we're playing, we have a lot of weapons. If we're hitting the three and running in transition, we're going to be hard to stop."

Senior Rene Coggins led the six Lumberjacks in double-digit scoring with a game-high 18 points. Redshirt junior Olivia Lucero scored 16 and freshman Raina Perez enjoyed a breakout performance in just her second career game with 13 points. Redshirt junior Kenna McDavis and senior Brittani Lusain each scored 11 points and sophomore Kaleigh Paplow rounded it out with 10.

After a slow start in the first quarter – which NAU trailed 20-16 after 10 minutes – the Lumberjacks shot no worse than 48 percent from the field in the final three quarters. In the final 30 minutes, NAU also shot 50 percent from behind the arc (8-of-16) as it put up 31, 33 and 29 points in succession to not only break the previous school record of 101 points, but also surpass the 100-point threshold for the first time since 2002.

By the final score, no one could guess that Antelope Valley led 27-26 midway through the second quarter. Then, the Lumberjacks put the pedal to the metal and put the Pioneers long gone in their rearview mirror. Lucero gave NAU the lead for good with 5:08 left in the first half before Perez and McDavis drained a triple each in a blink-and-you'll-miss it 8-0 run.

Before the Pioneers knew it, the Lumberjacks had scored 21 of the next 26 points to take a 47-32 lead into the half. The scoring never stopped as McDavis opened the second half with another three during a 16-5 run in the first four minutes of the third quarter.

NAU led by 32 at the end of three as the rout was on. Lusain's three-point play put the Lumberjacks over 100 points for the third time in school history and freshman Va'e Malufau's first career points came at the free throw line on the following possession broke the school record with 2:47 remaining in the game.

Antelope Valley's opponents had averaged 27 turnovers coming into Sunday's contest, but NAU turned the ball over just 10 times in the game. The Pioneers also controlled the offensive glass in the first quarter in which they led, converting seven offensive boards into eight second chance points. However, they were limited to just eight offensive rebounds and six second chance points the rest of the way.

"I liked the energy from our crowd and our bench had good energy," Bostick said. "In playing a team like (Antelope Valley) who likes to push the ball in transition and get a lot of shots up, the two keys were defensive rebounding and taking care of the ball. We did well in both areas after the first quarter."

Lusain tallied her first double-double of the year, and 11th of her career, with 11 points and 10 rebounds in just 12 minutes of action. McDavis narrowly missed out on a double-double of her own with nine boards to go with her line.

It was the play of Perez and sophomore Passionate Amukamara off the bench that sparked the 'Jacks in the game-changing second quarte. Amukamara's harassing defense frustrated the Pioneer guards as she finished with two steals along with eight points and four assists. Perez dished out seven assists and also recorded two steals.

Other notables included NAU setting a new Rolle Activity Center record for points in a half with 62 after the intermission. The Lumberjacks finished the game, 40-of-83, from the field and was one shy of tying the single game school record for made field goals.

They outrebounded Antelope Valley, 61-41, and was near-perfect at the free throw line shooting 20-for-22. The Pioneers only shot 28 percent for the game and was 7-for-39 from behind the arc.

"We haven't had this much fun and we're going to carry this momentum," Coggins said. "We had huge momentum after UTEP and these first two games only brought us closer. We've strived to be a family this year and everyone takes pride in wearing the NAU jersey. That's made a huge difference."

The Lumberjacks are back on the road for a pair of games in Southern California this upcoming weekend. On Friday, NAU will play at Cal Poly at 8 p.m. followed by a game at UC Santa Barbara next Sunday at 3 p.m. Both times are local to Flagstaff.