Patton breaks out of slump, leads NAU past SJSU
Behind a barrage of 3-pointers and suffocating defense, the NAU women’s basketball team jumped out early and never looked back in their 67-53 win against San Jose State (SJSU) on Dec. 1 at the Rolle Activity Center.
The Lumberjacks ran out to a 10–2 lead in the game’s first four minutes and led by as many as 20 before settling for a 36–23 halftime advantage. Sophomore guard Amy Patton broke out of her early season slump in a big way with 15 first-half points to spur the Lumberjacks into the decisive first half.
“I’m glad Amy played well,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “It was great to see her [get out] of [a] slump; so that was a positive thing.”
NAU shot 53.8 percent from the field — 50 percent from the 3-point line — and held the Spartans to 38.5 percent shooting and more importantly, forced 15 first-half turnovers.
But SJSU made it a game in the second half, cutting the NAU lead to six with just under 13 minutes left in the game. During the next four minutes, Patton contributed six points to a 12–0 NAU run that pushed the lead back up to double-digits, and the Lumberjacks finished off their wire-to-wire victory.
“I just feel like we need to play at our level and not at the level of our opponents,” Kelly said. “We came out and got up by 20 in the first half, and we became complacent. We stopped being aggressive and started turning the ball over. We lost the edge that we had.”
Patton finished with a season-high 28 points on 11–19 shooting, 4–8 from 3-point range, despite coming into the game shooting at just 32 percent. She also tallied a game-high 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.
“It definitely felt good tonight,” Patton said. “I just hope to improve on top of this game, and I feel like I finally got past what I needed to get past from the last six games.”
But the talk after the game, or lack thereof, was about the Lumberjacks’ struggles at the free-throw line after shooting just 8–22 (36.4 percent).
“I almost can’t even talk about free-throw shooting right now,” Kelly said. “There’s no words for it. I talked to the team afterwards and told them that’s the kind of thing that will cost us in a close game. Tonight we could afford to shoot as poorly as we did and still come out with a win. It wasn’t a pretty win.”
NAU improved to 4–3 on the season while SJSU dropped to 0–7. The Lumberjacks return to the court on Dec. 4 against Utah State. Tip-off is set for 2:05 pm.
“Utah State is aggressive and very physical,” Kelly said. “They’re going to be one of the better teams we’ve played, and we need to be ready to go. I’m hoping that with that better play, it’s going to challenge us and play at our level.”