Lumberjacks win in Bozeman for first time in 8 years

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Defying recent history, Northern Arizona went into Worthington Arena and won for the first time since 2007. The Lumberjacks rallied behind double-digit scoring from four of their starters to defeat the Bobcats 71-64 on Saturday.

"It feels good. Montana State is a tough team to play against," NAU coach Jack Murphy said. "They can shoot the basketball, so I give our guys a lot of credit today as we came away with the win. It’s always good to get a team win and today we did just that."

NAU (9-11, 4-3 Big Sky) began the game 1 of 8 from the field and down 7-2. From there NAU went 3 of 4 from the floor and finished the first half shooting 44 percent. The Lumberjacks were able to get a huge boost from Ako Kaluna who, led NAU with 10 points at the half, while Gaellan Bewernick did his job boxing out pulling down six rebounds.

With a 28-26 lead going into the half, NAU knew it had to stay one step ahead of the Bobcats to pull off the win.

Jordyn Martin started the second half off with a jumper, but Montana State went on a 6-0 run to go up 33-30 with 17:43 left to play.

A two-handed dunk by Quinton Upshur ended the Bobcats’ run, but then MSU rattled off three straight treys to take a 42-34 lead.

Not to be counted out, NAU used aggressive play and good ball movement to chip away at the Bobcats lead and a layup by Bewernick brought NAU to within two points with 11:25 to go.

NAU took the lead after a pair of free throws by Kris Yanku gave NAU the 52-51 edge.

Riding the momentum of a fast pace game, NAU continued to build a lead and with solid shooting from all of its starters the Lumberjacks saw themselves up 61-56 with under four minutes to play.

NAU’s next six points came from Upshur who hit a pair of three-pointers to give NAU a 67-61 lead with two minutes left to play.

The Lumberjacks’ final four points came from the free throw line as NAU went 11 of 15 from the game for the charity stripe to sink the Bobcats.

Leading NAU was Kris Yanku who recorded 15 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for his second double-double this season. Upshur scored a team-high 18 points, tying his season-high of five made three-pointers. Dixon chipped in 14 points and four assists and Kaluna added 12 points.

For Montana State, Michael Dison registered 18 points and Eric Norman added eight points and 10 rebounds. The loss drops the Bobcats to 4-16 overall and 1-7 in league play.