NAU loses on road to Southern Utah, 78-67

 
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BY VINCENT PENA — 

The Northern Arizona University (NAU) men’s basketball team dropped their second consecutive game Saturday night after losing to Southern Utah University (SUU) by a score of 78–67.

The SUU Thunderbirds (9–12, 7–5 BSC) went up big early, leading by as many as 17 points in the first half. The Lumberjacks did their best to keep it interesting, cutting the deficit to four in the second half, but couldn’t seem to close the gap.

SUU guard Damon Hueir led all scorers with 27 points on 9 of 19 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Leading scorer for NAU was junior forward Max Jacobsen, who scored 17 points, going 7 of 10 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds. Senior forward Ephraim Ekanem added a career-high 12 points, helping NAU outscore SUU in the paint 33-31.

“They’re doing better around the rim, they’re doing a better job at finishing,” said head coach Jack Murphy. “Max is one of the leaders in field goal percentage in the conference, so we need to do a better job of getting him the basketball.”

The Lumberjacks’ two leading scorers, senior Gabe Rogers and freshman DeWayne Russell, combined for 19 points, shooting 4 for 13, and 2 for 12, respectively.

“When they’re 6 of 25 from the field it’s difficult for us to score. We have to find other ways to score and one of those ways is to get the ball inside,” Murphy said.

However, NAU couldn’t seem to find a rhythm, and committed a lot of turnovers on offense.

“We equaled them in turnovers 13 to 13, and some of ours were just silly and uncharacteristic I felt like,” said Murphy. “But then they score 19 points off turnovers and we only score 11 — that’s the ballgame right there.”

The victory gives SUU their fourth consecutive win, and completes their season sweep of NAU, putting them in third place in the Big Sky Conference.

The Lumberjacks now find themselves in seventh place heading into their game Feb. 4 against Sacramento State.

“We understand that we have got to win some of these road games to make up for what we’ve done at home,” said Murphy. “We’re right there in the thick of things in terms of that top seven, so we’re not going to be going anywhere.”

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