BEAUMONT, Texas – The Northern Arizona women's basketball team was in a giving mood on Wednesday on the night before Thanksgiving. A season-worst 24 turnovers was far from a winning recipe and led to the Lumberjacks' demise as their halftime lead evaporated into the night in an eventual 75-60 loss to Lamar in the Montagne Center.
"We didn't start off well again, and that's been a problem for us the last couple of games," said interim head coach Robyne Bostick. "We turned the ball over early and we need to start stronger. We didn't play well down the stretch in the first half and Lamar was able to carry that momentum into the third quarter. When we go over tonight's game, the team is going to be able to see how easily correctable our mistakes are."
Senior Rene Coggins dropped a career-high 26 points on the strength of seven three-pointers – the fourth-most made treys by a Lumberjack in school history – but it was not enough to prevent the 'Jacks from dropping their third straight game after starting the season with two victories. Sophomore Kaleigh Paplow also did her best to halt NAU's losing streak totaling 11 points, nine rebounds and a career-high tying five steals.
NAU led 38-32 at halftime, overcoming 12 first half turnovers with 48 percent shooting from the floor. The second half was a completely different story, as the Lumberjacks scored just five points in the third quarter, and as a result saw their six-point halftime lead turn into an 11-point deficit going into the final 10 minutes. The Lumberjacks shot just 1-for-13 in the third quarter and 7-for-29 in the second half overall, while trailing by as much as 22 points.
Coggins, who was just 2-for-11 from deep in the last two games combined, was feeling it from long distance from the get-go and let it fly often. She knocked down a pair of threes in the contest's first four minutes and change, and scored eight of NAU's first nine points. Her early exploits led NAU to a 9-6 advantage, but Lamar led 16-13 after the first quarter.
The Cardinals led 25-20 with six and a half minutes left in the second quarter, but fell victim to the Lumberjacks' best stretch of the game to close the half. Coggins, Paplow and redshirt junior Olivia Lucero combined for all 11 points during an 11-0 run that flipped the scoreboard and overall NAU went into halftime scoring 18 of the last 25 points.
That was about the end of the NAU highlights as a lengthy scoring drought of five minutes allowed Lamar to take complete control of the ball game. After redshirt Kenna McDavis scored at the rim on NAU's initial second half possession, the Lumberjacks turned the ball over six times, missed their next five shots and lost their lead in the process. The Cardinals took full advantage of the Lumberjacks' struggles, leading 54-43 after three periods and cruising from there.
After holding a plus-six margin on the glass in the first half, NAU wound up being outrebounded, 45-34. Lamar turned NAU's 24 turnovers into 25 points and overall held advantages in points off turnovers (25-11), points in the paint (46-12), second chance points (18-13) and fast break points (10-2).
Coggins and Paplow combined to shoot 12-for-25 with the rest of the team shooting just 7-for-29. The Lumberjacks shot 8-for-22 from three, but outside of Coggins, the team was only 1-for-11. Lucero also finished in double-figures with 13 points, with a perfect 6-for-6 showing at the charity stripe.
"Rene Coggins was definitely hot in the first half and for the majority of the game," Bostick said. "We were able to find her for open looks in the first half, but in the second half she had to work a little harder. As a staff, we really just have to look for ways to get ready for Youngstown State and to start a little better."
NAU starts its season-long four-game homestand on Monday versus Youngstown State. Tip-off in the Rolle Activity Center is 6:30 p.m.