Hawaii pulls away from NAU in second half

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Hawaii took control in the second half for a 76-66 victory over Northern Arizona on Saturday at the Walkup Skydome. The Lumberjacks and Rainbow Warriors were tied 25-all at halftime, but Hawaii was too much in the final 20 minutes and earned its its fourth straight win.

The Rainbow Warriors improved to 6-2 while the Lumberjacks dropped to 2-7.

“Even though we were down, we fought back. I’m really proud of the team for that,” said NAU coach Jack Murphy. “We need to work on our press break and transition defense. We’re scoring baskets, but we’re also giving them up on the other end, which hurts us.”

Junior Gaellan Bewernick led NAU with a career-high 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. Quinton Upshur (15), Aaseem Dixon (11) and Christopher Miller (10) gave the Lumberjacks their third straight game with three or more players scoring in double figures.

“Tonight, I happened to be open at the right time,” said Bewernick. “I have to give all the credit to my teammates for finding me. Thankfully, I was able to knock down my shots.”

With a hefty amount of turnovers by both teams in the first half, NAU and Hawaii entered the locker room at halftime tied 25-25.

The second half was a different story, as NAU and Hawaii upped the tempo and ran the floor to put some points on the scoreboard. The two teams managed to score a combined 19 points in the first 3 minutes and 14 seconds as Hawaii took a 36-35 edge.

The Rainbow Warriors then went on a decisive 14-2 run sparked by back-to-back baskets by Garret Nevels.

NAU cut the Hawaii’s lead to four thanks to a pair of free throws by Upshur with 8:15 remaining, but a combination of missed shots and turnovers hurt the Lumberjacks down the stretch, and they were unable to catch up.

NAU outrebounded Hawaii 32-27, but turnovers and poor free-throw shooting ultimately cost the Lumberjacks the game.

Nevels was the leader on offense for the Rainbow Warriors, as he tallied a game-high 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting. Keith Shamburger and Brandon Spearman added 15 and 13 points, respectively.

NAU will continue home play next weekend when it hosts Grand Canyon on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m.