NAU returns home to face Portland State

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona’s men’s basketball team, coming off a road victory at Sacramento State on Monday, The Lumberjacks host two critical Big Sky Conference home games this week, starting with Portland State at 6:35 p.m. Thursday night at the Walkup Skydome.

The game can be watched on FOX Sports Arizona Plus.

“It is a very big game within the conference,” said head coach Jack Murphy. “They are very talented. They played a tough non-conference schedule and beat us at their place. They did a great job of getting guys in position to be successful.”

Portland State posted a 79-74 victory over the Lumberjacks on Jan. 12 but have dropped six straight games entering the week. The Vikings are 0-10 on the season on the road.

“The guys understand how critical these games are,” said Murphy. “We talked about it before the game on Monday. Road games give you an opportunity to make up games and home games help you keep the position you are in. You can’t lose at home especially in this league. We have had some good success in Flagstaff and we have had some disappointing heart break. We have to put it all together and have a great weekend.”

The Lumberjacks are 8-14 on the season with a 5-7 mark in conference play, tied with Sacramento State for sixth place in the standings. Portland State is two games back at 5-14 and 3-9.

The Vikings boast four players scoring in double figures on the season, led by Aaron Moore at 12.3 points per game. He is the fourth-best rebounder in the conference at 6.7 per game and shoots better than 52 percent from the floor.

“We really have to get out on their shooters,” said Murphy. “They are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league.”

The Vikings are fourth in the league in both field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage.

Senior Michael Dunn provided the late-game heroics against Sacramento State, nailing two free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory. He also hit a buzzer beater to beat Northern Colorado on Jan. 24.

“Mike has been outstanding as he has been all season,” said Murphy. “He plays hard and gives effort and energy every time he steps on the floor. He scored four points in the last minute of the game to help seal the victory against Sacramento State.”

Thursday is “Think Pink” and “NAU Faculty/Staff Night”. The first 500 fans will receive pink rally towels as all fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. NAU faculty and staff can order discounted reserved tickets online by using the code FSJACKS or by calling 928-523-5661. At halftime, faculty and staff from various colleges will be competing in a free throw competition.

It is also the second of three “School Nights”. Students who attend local DeMiguel, Kinsey, Marshall and Seachrist schools receive a $5 ticket discount for them and their guests.

The Lumberjacks remain at home on Saturday for an afternoon game against Eastern Washington (6-16, 4-8).