Men’s basketball cruises to victory over Southwestern
Playing their third game in six days, the NAU men’s basketball team did not let up against the visiting Southwestern College Eagles from Phoenix, routing them 97-47 in front of an announced sell-out crowd of 857 at the Rolle Activity Center on Nov. 19.
“We had a goal to hold them under 50 points for the game,” said head coach Mike Adras. The Lumberjacks met their goal.
“I’m happy about that,” Adras continued. “The guys should feel good about that.”
Senior forward Eric Platt led the Lumberjacks in scoring for the second consecutive game by pitching in 28 points, connecting on eight of 12 attempts from a 3-point distance. The total also set a new career-high for Platt, breaking his previous record of 26 — which he set against SWC last season — contributing to a 113-61 victory for NAU.
“That dude is ridiculous,” said sophomore forward Austin Smith of his winger Platt. “That dude does not miss a shot. If you hit his man on a screen, he’s got a wide-open shot. I’ve never played with a shooter like Eric.”
Senior guard Cameron Jones also contributed 18 points, while sophomore point guard Stallon Saldivar continued his streak of strong play by dishing out seven assists along with seven points. Leading the Jacks in rebounds was junior forward Durrell Norman, who hauled down eight.
The game started off well for the Eagles, with forward Daniel Stanton scoring his team’s first eight points and pushing SWC out to an early 8-2 lead. But an 11-0 run by the Lumberjacks, highlighted by two of Saldivar’s assists and a jump shot of his own, put NAU ahead for good. After a strong end to the first half, the Lumberjacks took the lead at 41-27 heading into the break.
“First half we started off a little slow,” Jones said. “They were playing with a lot more intensity than we were.”
In the next 20 minutes of gameplay, NAU took full control of the contest by means of strong defensive play and a highly potent outside shooting attack. At one point, the Lumberjacks went on a 22-0 run that spanned 7:13, which was helped by Platt’s long-range bombs.
“I thought we kind of wore them out in the second half,” Adras said. “The pace picked up, and we did a great job of getting the ball to the open man and converting shots.”
The NAU defense was also a key component in the victory. The Jacks forced 22 turnovers and blocked nine shots, with the majority of the turnovers and rejections coming in the second half.
“We’re bigger than them and faster than them, so I think we should have had those numbers,” Adras said. “I’m pleased with that.”
Smith recorded his first double-digit point total of the season with 11 points. He pulled down four rebounds in 14 minutes and seems to be finding a rhythm within the squad’s system.
“It’s been a tough past couple games,” Smith said. “Hopefully I can keep it going, and we can keep rolling.”
Following the victory over SWC, the Lumberjacks hit the road to take on the Kennesaw State Owls on Monday. NAU knocked off the Atlantic Sun Conference school 74-66. Jones scored 20 points while Shane Johannsen contributed a double-double, notching 14 points and grabbing 17 rebounds.