Lumberjacks hold off North Dakota to claim thriller

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Mike Green hit a 3-pointer with 1:25 left to give Northern Arizona the lead and the Lumberjacks held off North Dakota in the final minute to take a 68-67 Big Sky Conference victory Saturday.

Drick Bernstine missed the chance to tie the game in the final minute when he missed one of two free throws that left the Fighting Hawks a point behind. Geno Crandall and Corey Baldwin each missed layups in the final seconds.

“As our team showed today, we are capable of competing at a high level against the upper-echelon teams in the Big Sky,” NAU coach Jack Murphy said. “I was really proud of how our men guarded today, especially in the second half in holding (UND) to only four transition points.”

Green finished with 17 points off the bench and Marcus DeBerry scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and passed out six assists to help lead Northern Arizona (6-16, 3-6). Isaiah Thomas scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

“Thomas has all the tools to be a really good big in this conference,” Murphy said. “He’s just beginning to hone those skills and tap into that potential. These last two games from him have been eye-opening, and we’re just really proud of his effort and hard work.”

Northern Arizona held a substantial edge on the boards, outrebounding the Fighting Hawks 43-27.

Crandall finished with 21 points to lead North Dakota (12-8, 7-3), with Bernstine adding 13 points and eight rebounds. Quinton Hooker had 11 points.