Dixon scores 22 as NAU pulls away from Sacramento State

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Junior guard Aaseem Dixon led Northern Arizona with 22 points as the Lumberjacks defeated Sacramento State 75-65 in their Big Sky Conference home opener Thursday night. NAU scored 44 second-half points to pull away.

"My staff did a great job tonight in coaching our guys," said Lumberjacks coach Jack Murphy. "We try to focus on our positives and expand on them. We have to protect our home court because it is very difficult to go on the road. We didn’t play championship basketball in the first half, but our play picked up in the second half, so I’m glad we were able to come away with the win."

Dixon also grabbed a career-high seven rebounds while Quinton Upshur netted 18 points and Max Jacobsen added 17 to lead the Lumberjacks on offense. NAU shot 48 percent from the floor but struggled from the free-throw line, connecting on 16 of 28 attempts.

"It feels really good to win our first home game in the Big Sky and we want to protect the Dome," said Dixon. "Coach (Murphy) says play hard because we need to get every home win during conference to be a top team in the Big Sky."

NAU (5-9, 2-1 Big Sky) trailed 32-31 at the half despite scoring 12 points off turnovers and shooting 48 percent from the field.

A 7-0 run midway through the half saw the Lumberjacks take a 47-40 lead. NAU went up by as many as 13 points with 7:15 to go after a layup by Jacobsen. The Lumberjacks never trailed in the last 15 minutes of the game, although the Hornets began to press NAU with the hope of producing a turnover.

NAU scored the final six points of the game — all from the free-throw line — to seal the win, its second in conference play.

Sacramento State (4-8, 0-3 Big Sky) was led by Mikh McKinney, who tallied 15 points. Dylan Garrity added 12 points for the Hornets, who shot 48.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free-throw line.