NAU breaks through for first win at Cal State Bakersfield

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Chris Bowling scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and Northern Arizona pulled away late to beat Cal State Bakersfield 60-52 on Saturday night for the Lumberjacks’ first win of the season.

Northern Arizona (1-7) closed a 14-1 run by capitalizing on back-to-back Bakersfield (4-5) turnovers in the penultimate minute. Damiyne Durham’s errant pass in the lane led to Torry Johnson’s fast-break layup, and Brent Wrapp’s charging call led to Bowling’s jumper making it 58-49, the largest lead of the game with 53 seconds left.

CSUB led 48-44 with 8:44 left after an 8-2 run capped by Ricky Holden’s 3-pointer, but from there the Roadrunners committed eight turnovers on their way to losing their third straight.

Northern Arizona made 24 of 45 shots and had 24 turnovers to CSU Bakersfield’s 25 miscues.

Shon Briggs and Moataz Aly had 11 points each, and Jarkel Joiner scored 10 for the Roadrunners.

“I have to commend our guys, we challenged them yesterday in a film session about playing together and playing like they love each other, and this team does,” NAU head coach Jack Murphy said. “We converted from defense to offense better than we have all year long, and at the end of the game we closed them out.  We were able to sustain their runs and take the punches and throw some punches back in the end.”

Saturday’s game capped a six-game road swing for Northern Arizona which will now return home for two of its next three games beginning on Wednesday vs. San Diego Christian.

“The pressure starts building to get a win, and yesterday we said forget about that,” Murphy said. “Get to work, play together and do what you know you are capable of doing.

“We just beat one of the best mid-major programs on the west coast in their building.This is one of the best wins we have had in my six years here. They (CSU Bakersfield) do not lose non-conference games at home.”

Junior forward Isaiah Thomas had his first double-double of the season with 12 points — all in the first half — and 10 rebounds. Johnson, coming off the bench for the first time this season, matched a career-high with five assists.