NAU women go cold late, lose to CSUN

After a blistering first half offensively, the Northern Arizona women’s basketball team went cold from the floor, scoring just three points in the final 6:51 as CSUN came away with a 77-71 victory in the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff on Thursday.

The Lumberjacks shot 57.1 percent in the first half, but their field goal percentage dropped to 34.6 percent in the final 20 minutes as they fell to 4-6, suffering their third straight defeat.

"I think we need more grit and determination at the end of a game," said head coach Sue Darling.

"I thought we were pretty tough for 34 minutes and then we let up. Against a quality team like that, that doesn’t work. Although I don’t like the result, what I liked about the game was that every player got to play and they all came in and did something positive. I was really proud of that, so while it hurts to lose we’re moving in the right direction."

The Lumberjacks often went inside to start the game as seniors Raven Anderson and Erikka Banks combined for the first 14 points. NAU shot its way to an 18-9 lead seven minutes into the game, but CSUN managed to tie the game at 23 and took a 29-25 lead with six minutes before halftime.

Junior Monique Mulder drove for a layup on the next possession to start a momentum-turning 12-0 run that guided the Lumberjacks to a 37-29 advantage with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. The Matadors hung close, and the Lumberjacks took a 43-37 lead into halftime.

While NAU was efficient from the field, its defense routinely forced CSUN into tough looks as the Matadors shot just 33.3 percent before the break.

The Matadors quickly knotted the score at 43 by scoring the first six points of the second half, forcing a timeout by NAU. The second half remained close with neither team taking sizeable control of the game, yet it was the Lumberjacks who held a 63-58 edge following back-to-back baskets by junior Mariah Willadsen and Mulder with 8:49 remaining.

Four consecutive free throws by sophomore Bradlee Cotton and Willadsen maintained NAU’s five-point cushion, 68-63, with 6:51 to play before the Lumberjacks’ offense started to struggle.

NAU missed its next seven shots from the field — and turned the ball over four times — as CSUN jumped ahead on the scoreboard. By the time Lusain made a 3-pointer to cut the Matador lead to 74-71, just 37 seconds remained. Those would be the final Lumberjack points.

"I was really happy about the way we played in the first half, but we came out a little lackadaisical to start the second half and that cost us," Darling said. "At the end of the day, CSUN is a very good team and we’re going to learn a lot from this game."

Anderson and Banks combined for 43 points. Banks finished with her fourth double-double of the season, totaling a season-best 25 points to go with 11 rebounds. She also dished out a career-high five assists. Anderson recorded 18 points.

Lusain posted her first double-double of the season and was three points shy of a triple-double. She notched 12 rebounds and 12 assists — both season-highs and one shy of her career-bests — and scored seven points. Mulder and Willadsen finished with eight and six points, respectively.

NAU wound up shooting 46.3 percent; CSUN shot 37.3 percent. The ‘Jacks also held a 39-36 rebounding edge and shot 83.3 percent from the free throw line, but they turned the ball over 11 times in the second half.

The Lumberjacks play their final non-conference game on Sunday in Albuquerque against New Mexico at 1 p.m.