Lumberjacks rally in second half to end Montana’s home win streak

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Northern Arizona men’s basketball team did what no other Big Sky Conference team had done in 31 games: beat the Montana Grizzlies at home.

The Lumberjacks defeated the Grizzlies 73-65 in their conference opener at Dahlberg Arena on Thursday night.

Aaseem Dixon scored 23 points, including four free throws in the closing seconds, and the Lumberjacks (4-8, 1-0 BSC) shot 77.3 percent in the second half, hitting all four of their 3-pointers and 6 of 8 free throws.

Max Jacobsen added 21 points and Quinton Upshur 18.

The Grizzlies (5-5, 0-1) shot just 35.7 percent in the second half.

"I’m feeling good. I just told the guys in the locker room that this is why we recruited them…to win games like this," NAU coach Jack Murphy said. "This win is a testament to the guys that were here since I started. It feels good to get a win up here."

Kareem Jamar had 21 points and has seven assists, and Jordan Gregory 17 for Montana.

But Dixon scored five straight to put NAU up 41-39 with 14:40 to play. The Lumberjacks led by 10 with 4:10 left but five points from Gregory made it a one-point game with 1:32 to play

Upshur responded with a 3 and Dixon made his free throws in the final 22 seconds.

 

With the lead changing hands only once in the first half and Montana taking a 37-29 edge into the locker room at halftime, it was up to NAU to takeover in the second half.

The Lumberjacks started the second half off on a 12-2 run. Back-to-back buckets by Jacobsen, followed by two shots by Dixon gave NAU its first lead of the half at 41-39.

"This win was big time," Dixon said. "NAU has been known to struggle in the second half, but we are a new and improved team. We communicated very well in the second half and we were able to come out with the win."

Dixon hit his first three shots before finishing with a career-high 23 points on 8-for-9 shooting. NAU finished 17-for-22 in the second half from the floor to come away with the victory.

NAU will continue Big Sky play on Saturday when it travels to Bozeman, Mont. for a contest against Montana State. Tip-off at Worthington Arena is slated for 7:05 p.m.