NAU women go cold in loss to Montana
The Northern Arizona women held Montana to 37 percent shooting for the game Thursday, but the Lumberjacks shot just 33 percent and went 2 for 15 from 3-point range in a 60-48 loss.
With the loss, he Lumberjacks fell to 0-5 in the Big Sky and 5-12 overall, while the Grizzlies improved to 9-7 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
“We forced some shots, and defensively we gave up 17 offensive rebounds, which really hurt us,” said NAU head coach Laurie Kelly. “We made defense a priority and got a lot of good looks for our posts, who played well, but in the end it came down to our inability to make shots outside of the paint.
"We’ve been coming out of the gates slowly the last few games, and it’s really hard to come back from that on the road."
Montana entered the game as the lowest-scoring team in the conference but also the best defensive team, and the tempo was set by the home team early. After opening up an 11-3 lead, Montana saw its lead cut to two after a 6-0 NAU run. Montana responded with a 7-0 run of its own to build an 18-9 lead with 10:43 remaining in the opening half, and its lead would grow to 13 with four minutes to play and end at 32-19 to close the opening half.
After the Grizzlies built their lead to 14 points early in the second half, NAU responded with an impressive 17-4 run over a seven-plus-minute stretch -- culminated by a 3-pointer by junior Amy Patton -- to get within one point at 39-38 with eight minutes to play. The Lumberjacks would go cold from there, though, going scoreless for more than five and a half minutes as Montana went on an 11-0 spurt to open up a 50-38 advantage with 2:28 remaining in the game. NAU would get within eight points in the final minutes, but Montana went 6 for 6 from the free-throw line down the stretch to compete a 60-48 victory.
The Lumberjacks' .333 field-goal percentage was their second lowest of the season, and their two 3-point makes were also their second-fewest of the year. NAU did have another superb night at the free-throw line, however, going 12 for 13 for the contest. Montana finished with a 38-36 rebounding edge and forced 21 turnovers while committing 16. After entering the game ranked 19th in the country with 12.5 steals per game, NAU was held to a season-low seven steals Thursday.
Patton finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and two assists, a stat line matched by sophomore Shay May, who was 5 for 7 from the field. Sophomore Trinidee Trice added eight points and four rebounds, and senior Katie Pratt scored five points while going 2 for 2 from the field in her first game action since suffering an injury at Iowa State on Nov. 20.
Montana junior Katie Baker led all players with 18 points and 10 rebounds.