NAU women end season with win over Montana
Senior Katie Pratt scored 11 points and added five rebounds in her final collegiate game and was one of four Northern Arizona players to score in double- figures as the Lumberjacks ended their season with a 74-70 win over Montana.
NAU, which shot 52 percent for the game, finished the season at 9-20 overall and 4-12 in the Big Sky. Montana finished fifth in the conference with a 9-7 Big Sky record and a 16-13 overall mark.
"It felt good to send (seniors) Katie Pratt and Caty Huntington out with a win," NAU head coach Laurie Kelly said. "I thought it was a great team win for us, but it's bittersweet. This isn’t the way I wanted our season to be, but hopefully Caty and Katie can feel some pride in walking off the court for the last time with a win, and I really hope that it makes our returning players hungry."
Pratt started the game 3 for 3 from the field, with all three shots coming from 3-point range, and finished with 11 points to equal her season high. Huntington had missed the last six games with a knee injury but got the start before being subbed out following the opening tip.
NAU took a huge lead early, as Montana opened the game with a 1-for-21 drought. The Lumberjacks led 15-2 after five minutes and maintained a double-digit advantage through the first 11 minutes of the game. Montana used a 19-10 run following the opening NAU spurt to cut the deficit to four points at 25-21 with 4:39 remaining in the half, but the home team would then score seven straight points to regain an 11-point advantage. The Lady Griz finished the half strong, though, going into the intermission down just 36-31.
The Lumberjacks had a 45-40 lead after four-plus minutes of the second half before Montana went on a 6-0 spurt to take its first lead of the game, 46-45, with 12:59 to play. The one-point lead would be the only advantage of the game for the Lady Griz, as NAU regained the lead and built it to 58-50 with 9:37 remaining. A 9-2 Montana run brought the Lady Griz within one point with four minutes to play, but NAU again responded, going up by eight at 68-60. The visitors would get as close as three points in the final minutes, but NAU went 6 for 8 from the free-throw line down the stretch to close out the 74-70 win.
NAU outshot Montana 58.3 percent to 27.0 percent in the first half and limited the Lady Griz to 34.3 percent shooting for the game. Montana did have a slight 42-39 rebounding edge but was outscored 32-22 in the paint and 12-2 in fast-break points. The Lady Griz also shot just 6 for 21 from 3-point range and 18 of 30 from the free-throw line.
Junior Tyler Stephens-Jenkins led NAU with 14 points, going 4 for 6 from long range and adding four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Khyra Conerly added 12 points while sophomore Amandra Frost finished with 11.
NAU junior Amy Patton totaled nine points, five rebounds, five assists
and four steals in the season finale. She ended her third collegiate
season with 1,438 career points, just 12 points shy of second place on
the NAU career scoring list. She will start her senior season just 280
points away from becoming NAU’s all-time scoring leader, having averaged
479 points per season in three years as a Lumberjack.
Katie Baker led the Lady Griz with 22 points and seven rebounds.
"We need to look at how other teams in this league have been successful and take our talent and our depth and be that hard-working, blue-collar team in practice every day,” added Kelly in regards to next season. "As sad as I am to see this season end, tomorrow starts a new season, and I love that. I think we have leadership that wants to step up, and I hope we leave the gym hungry for next year."