'Jacks Prep for Conference with Road Trip to Grand Canyon, Utah

Kaleigh Paplow
Kaleigh Paplow

Game Information:

Opponent: Grand Canyon (Monday, Dec. 19/12:00 p.m.)

Location: Phoenix, Ariz.

Opponent: Utah (Wednesday, Dec. 21/2:00 p.m.)

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona women's basketball team hopes to close their non-conference schedule with a bang as they head out on the road for the first time in nearly a month this upcoming week. In their final two games before the start of the Big Sky schedule, the Lumberjacks will head down the I-17 for a Monday matinee with in-state rival Grand Canyon at 12 noon before traveling to face unbeaten Utah out of the Pac-12 on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Follow the Action:

Robyne Bostick's Opening Thought: "Grand Canyon and Utah are both very good teams, so we've been using the last week to tighten up on some things. Our offense is really looking good and we have several players who can step up and score in any given game. That's nice for us to have several different weapons. Right now, defensively we need to trust each other a little more with our help defense and communicate a little more."

Previewing The 'Jacks: NAU went 2-2 on its recent four-game homestand - its longest of the season - and is 4-5 overall this season. The Lumberjacks are seeking their first five-win non-conference record since the 2011-12 season. The 'Jacks dropped a 79-68 decision to New Mexico State last Sunday in their last game. Senior Rene Coggins paced the Lumberjacks with 14 points and is ranks ninth in the Big Sky with a team-leading 14.7 points per game. She is shooting 44.4 percent from behind the arc and is averaging a conference-high 35.8 minutes per game. Redshirt junior Olivia Lucero ranks second on the team behind Coggins with 13.9 points per game. Senior Brittani Lusain is the Big Sky's second-leading rebounder at 8.3 per game. Sophomore Kaleigh Paplow is NAU's top reserve off the bench, averaging 7.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. NAU has been effective scoring the basketball in every way, ranking fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (.408) and second in both free throw percentage (.756) and three-point percentage (.338).

Scouting Grand Canyon: Grand Canyon earned third-place preseason predictions by both the WAC coaches and media in the polls prior to the season. The Lopes have won their last three games to push their record to 6-4 on the season. They are coming off a 76-73 win at Southern Utah Friday night and have two wins against Big Sky foes this season. GCU owns a 5-1 record at home. Marina Laramie leads the Lopes, as well as the WAC, in scoring at 20.6 points per game on 46 percent shooting. She is also shooting 48 percent from behind the arc and averaging 8.0 rebounds per game, both of which rank second in the conference. Jessica Gajewski, a preseason All-WAC First Team pick, is GCU's second-leading scorer at 11.8 per game. She is seventh in the WAC in three-point shooting at 39.1 percent.

Bostick on Grand Canyon: "Grand Canyon has a post player who averaging 20 points per game and they shoot the three very well. It's going to be a defensive challenge for us hoping to get the win. It'll be good for our players to play in Phoenix because we do have a lot of players from that area, so to play in front of friends and family will be fun for them."

Scouting Utah: Utah was picked eighth in the preseason Pac-12 poll, but is one of three remaining undefeated teams in the conference going into the weekend. The Utes are 9-0 and most recently hammered BYU, 77-60, last Saturday. Utah hosts Weber State on Saturday and has already picked up two wins over Big Sky opponents this season. Emily Potter has been a force this season, averaging a double-double with team-highs of 16.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. She is converting at a 64.2 percent clip from the field and is leading the Pac-12 with 28 blocks. Malia Nawahine is second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game. She has hit a team-best 16 three-pointers at a 34 percent clip and is shooting 82.8 percent at the free-throw line.

Bostick on Utah: "Utah is currently undefeated, so it's going to be another challenge against a really good Pac-12 team. They also have a big post player who is in the top three in the conference in a number of statistical categories. It should be a great environment and good challenge for us and it'll get us ready for the start of conference."

Series History: 

  • NAU and Grand Canyon will be meeting for the seventh time in school history. NAU leads the all-time series 5-1. Grand Canyon won the last meeting, 64-50, on Dec. 3, 1993 in Flagstaff.
  • NAU and Utah will be meeting for the eighth time in school history. Utah leads the all-time series 7-0. Utah won the last meeting, 69-45, on Dec. 28, 2003 in Flagstaff.

Like NAU Women's Basketball on Facebook

Follow NAU Women's Basketball on Twitter

Download the NAU Athletics Mobile App Here