NAU holds off San Diego Christian for 2nd win in a row

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Isaiah Thomas reached career bests with 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Northern Arizona sank 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to defeat San Diego Christian 79-70 Wednesday night.

The double-double was the second in a row for Thomas, and NAU (2-7) has won consecutive games for the first time in nearly a year. The Lumberjacks, coming off a win at Cal State Bakersfield, last won back-to-back games in January (Northern Colorado and North Dakota).

Karl Harris and Gino Littles also recorded career highs in scoring for NAU — Harris with 19 and Littles with 12. Harris also had nine rebounds, and Littles hit a pair of 3s during a 16-0 second-half run for the Lumberjacks.

Derek Novsek led the Hawks, of the NAIA, with 22 points, and Nick Crankshaw added 13. Anthony Gonzalez scored with two minutes left, pulling the Hawks to within 72-69. But Littles and Harris each made two free throws and Jojo Anderson made 3 of 4. NAU converted 17 of 22 overall.

NAU outrebounded San Diego Christian 43-29, but the Hawks made nine 3-point shots and scored 15 points off 14 NAU turnovers.

“We need guys that want to play,” NAU head coach Jack Murphy said.  “San Diego Christian came here wanting to win.  We must come out with toughness every night and a will to win.  That was not the same team that beat CSU Bakersfield on Saturday night.

“I thought we found a good group and a good nucleus that wanted to be out on the floor in the second half. The problem was during that run they got a little tired and I had to sub.  San Diego Christian did a good job and was able to pull the game back a bit, but we got the win, and that feels better than the opposite would.”

Thomas played 30 minutes, as NAU was without two big men — senior Ruben Fuemba and sophomore Brooks Debisschop, who sat out because of foot injuries.

Northern Arizona returns to the road on Saturday, Dec. 9, when it travels to face the University of San Diego. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Arizona Plus at 8 p.m. (MST)