Opponent: North Dakota (Thursday, Jan. 5/6:30 p.m.)
Opponent: Northern Colorado (Saturday, Jan. 7/2:00 p.m.)
Location: Walkup Skydome - Flagstaff, Ariz.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Coming off a conference opening win, the Northern Arizona women's basketball team returns home for their first two home Big Sky contests this week. NAU hosts North Dakota on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Northern Colorado on Saturday at 2 p.m. Both games will be played in the Walkup Skydome.
Follow the Action:
- Both games will be streamed for free online at watchbigsky.com.
Promotions: Thursday's game will be a Blue Out with blue water bottles to be given away to all fans. Saturday's game will be a White Out with light up necklaces and lanyards to be given away to all fans. Both games will also feature Bingo Bash. Bingo cards will be given to all fans wearing blue (Thursday) and white (Saturday). The first two fans to claim "bingo" at each game will receive an NAU cookie cut with the next five winning a Louie the Lumberjack bobblehead. There will also be consolation prizes for other winners.
Robyne Bostick's Opening Thought: "It's always tough to win in this conference on the road and we saw that during the opening weekend with the teams who won at home. Both Northern Colorado and North Dakota won their games at home, so we want to defend our home court this weekend, but we'll be dealing with two very good teams."
Previewing The 'Jacks: NAU is 1-0 in the Big Sky, and 5-7 overall, after rallying for a 77-68 win in overtime at Southern Utah on New Year's Eve. NAU was down by 12 in the second quarter before redshirt junior Olivia Lucero sent the game into overtime with a game-tying three-pointer. Freshman Raina Perez was NAU's high scorer with 18 points, the most she has scored in her debut season. Perez, Lucero and redshirt junior Kenna McDavis each hit four three-pointers in the win. Lucero ranks eighth in the conference in scoring with 14.6 points per game to pace the Lumberjacks. She also ranks eighth with a 79.6 percent showing at the free throw line. Senior Rene Coggins failed to hit a three-pointer against Southern Utah for the first time this season, but still ranks second on the team with 13.2 points per game. Over the last three games, McDavis is averaging 12.3 points per game while shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Scouting North Dakota: North Dakota was voted second in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving four first-place votes, and was selected fifth in the Media Poll. The Fighting Hawks have won their last three games, including both of their conference openers last week at home. UND defeated Portland State, 65-61, and Sacramento State, 94-71, and are now 7-6 overall with a perfect 2-0 conference record. Makailah Dyer leads three players in double-figure scoring at 14.5 points per game for the season. She is shooting 38.5 percent from three-point range and last week she averaged 19.5 points in the first two conference games. Lexi Klabo ranks fourth in the Big Sky in rebounding at 8.0 per game and is also averaging 10.6 points per game. She is second in the conference with a 56.3 field goal percentage.
Bostick on North Dakota: "North Dakota does a really good job of executing their offense, and they are a really good rebounding team. That'll be a challenge for us because we were outrebounded by quite a bit against Southern Utah. We'll have to be able to bounce back from that."
Scouting Northern Colorado: Northern Colorado was the consensus ninth-place team in both the conference preseason polls by the coaches and media. The Bears have thus far defied their preseason ranking with a 10-3 overall record. UNC also was victorious in the first week of Big Sky play with home wins over Sacramento State, 95-88, and Portland State, 91-62, to increase its win streak to three games. Savannah Scott leads the Bears in scoring at 14.3 points per game and assists with 49. She has also connected on 21 three-pointers at a 39.6 percent clip and was named Big Sky Co-Player of the Week following averages of 17.0 points and 11.0 assists in the first week of conference play. Courtney Smith is averaging 12.7 points per game on a Big Sky leading 60.2 field goal percentage and is also the team's leading rebounder at 6.5 per game.
Bostick on Northern Colorado: "Northern Colorado shoots the ball really well and they play really hard. Our defense is going to have to step up."
- NAU and North Dakota will be meeting for the 10th time in school history. North Dakota leads the all-time series 7-2. North Dakota won the only meeting last season, 63-56, on Jan. 21, 2016 at home.
- NAU and Northern Colorado will be meeting for the 24th time in school history. Northern Colorado leads the all-time series 18-5. Northern Colorado won the only meeting last season, 79-55, on Jan. 23, 2016 at home.
Coaching Tree: An interesting note between Bostick and Northern Colorado head coach Kamie Ethridge is that they are both a product of the Jim Foster coaching tree. Foster, current head coach at Chattanooga, was a 2013 inductee in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and was just the second collegiate coach - men's or women's - to win at least 200 games at three different schools. Bostick played for Foster at Saint Joseph's and later was part of his staff at Vanderbilt. Ethridge also was on Foster's staff at Vanderbilt and left a year before Bostick arrived. Other notable head coaches from the Foster coaching tree include Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw, Saint Joseph's Cindy Griffin and Fordham's Stephanie Gaitley.
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