NAU takes down North Dakota on road
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Northern Arizona knocked down 26 of 30 free throws on Thursday night and handed North Dakota an 85-75 loss at home.
The win is NAU's eighth in the past nine games, improving to 7-1 on the road in conference play.
"It's always good to win on the road and that's what we did tonight," NAU coach Jack Murphy said. "Every win is a crucial win, especially with the regular season winding down. I'm proud of the way we played tonight. We passed the ball well and we made free throws. Whenever we can get multiple guys playing well it increases our chances of a victory because we win as a team."
It was NAU's bench that kept the Lumberjacks (16-12, 11-4 Big Sky) in the first half, as Ako Kaluna led all players with 12 points, including a pair of treys. A mixture of Kaluna's stellar play in the paint and beyond the arc, coupled with NAU's 92.3 percent (12 of 13) performance from the free throw line saw NAU take a 42-36 halftime lead.
NAU's offense started off slow in the second half, but it would never trail. The Lumberjacks minimized their turnovers in the second half, spread the ball and gained the advantage at the free throw line.
The game plan for NAU did not change in the second half. Continue to make free throws, dominate the paint and get points from the bench. The Lumberjacks did those three things by hitting 14 of 17 free throws, adding 24 points in the paint and scoring seven bench points.
NAU held a five-point lead with 8:23 to go with four of its previous six points coming from the free throw line.
Staying true to the previous 32 minutes of play, the Lumberjacks found a way to make it to the charity stripe.
Eight of NAU's final 20 points came from the free throw line with a trio of players knocking down shots. The Lumberjacks became too much for North Dakota (8-19, 4-12) coming away with the 10-point win and handing UND its seventh conference home loss.
Leading the way for NAU was Kris Yanku. The sophomore recorded a double-double of 24 points and 12 assists. Jordyn Martin added 17 points and nine rebounds, while Zach Reynolds was also just shy of a double-double with nine points and 10 boards. Rounding out NAU's double digit scorers were Kaluna with 16 points and Aaseem Dixon with 11.
North Dakota was led by Quinton Hooker's 20 points. Jaron Nask added 12 points and six rebounds, while Lenny Antwi recorded 15 points. North Dakota finished 46.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the free throw line.