NAU women’s basketball swept on weekend road trip
BY RAYMOND REID —
The Northern Arizona University (NAU) women’s basketball team ventured east this past weekend for two Big Sky Conference matchups; facing off against the University of North Dakota on Jan. 26 and the University of Northern Colorado on Jan. 24. Heading into the weekend with a record of 4–12, the Jacks were looking to have a solid road trip before returning to Flagstaff.
“In my mind, our season is broken up into four parts,” said head coach Sue Darling. “The first part is obviously our non-conference. If I had to grade it, I would grade it a D. The second part is our first half of conference play. We got it together and won some games . . . I would grade it a C-. When we play hard we can beat anyone in this league. In the second half of conference play, we’re looking for As and Bs.”
The weekend was to be nothing of the sort with the Lumberjacks falling 70–50 against North Dakota and 69–54 at Northern Colorado.
Against North Dakota, the Jacks had their most deplorable shooting night of the year. They shot 33.3 percent on 20-of-60 shooting from the field and mustered only two double figure scorers, senior guard Amy Patton who finished with 23 and senior center Aubrey Davis who contributed 18 points.
“This is our last go around for us seniors,” said Davis. “We need to give it all we’ve got out there . . . and play our hearts out.”
No other player on the roster scored more than two points or took more than six shots. The Jacks also, as has been the case most of the season, lost the rebound and turnover battle. The Sioux shot the ball poorly also in the contest, but were able to spread the shots around with no player taking more than 11 shots and every player taking at least one.
The lack of offensive diversity has been a glaring problem for the Jacks in many of their defeats this season.
On Jan. 24, against the Bears in Greeley, Colo., the Jacks ran into a buzzsaw. Northern Colorado hasn’t lost a game at home and presumably will host the Big Sky Tournament this season. Heading into Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, the Lumberjacks had to rise to the occasion to hand the Bears their first home loss, but fell short of that goal.
The Jacks were dominated on the boards and allowed Big Sky Player of the Week, forward Lauren Oosdyke, to shoot 78 percent from the field en route to a 24-point performance. Junior point guard D’shara Strange added 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists. For the Lumberjacks, Patton led the effort with 14 points. Fellow senior forward Tyler Stephens-Jenkins added 10 points and led the team with seven rebounds.
Falling to 4–14, the Jacks sit in eighth place in the Big Sky standings, still mathematically capable of making the postseason tournament. With a conference record of 3–6, there is hope that they can rebound during the back half of their conference schedule. Darling continues to creep closer to the dreaded 100 career loss mark and may find herself meeting that before she enjoys her 20th career victory. With the amount of talent on this roster, there isn’t much doubt that the Jacks are capable of turning it around; the question is will they be able to with Darling at the helm.
“It was an eye opener to us; we didn’t come to play at all,” said senior forward Tyler Stephens-Jenkins. “We let two games we could’ve won slip away. We know in the future we can’t let that happen again.”
The next action for the Lumberjacks is Jan. 31 against the Hornets of Sacramento State in Sacramento.