FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Max Jacobsen scored a career-high 22 points to lead all five starters in double figures, and Northern Arizona held off Montana State 87-80 on Monday night in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams.
“It was good to play so well after a 12-day layoff,” said NAU coach Jack Murphy. “I thought the guys came out early in the first five minutes and set a tone offensively for how we wanted to play.”
Jacobsen added nine rebounds and was 9 of 12 from the floor, part of a 56 percent effort for the Lumberjacks (4-5), who snapped a 15-game conference losing streak. DeWayne Russell had 16 points, Gaellan Bewernick scored 13, Stallon Saldivar had 12 and Gabe Rogers chipped in 11.
“We were eager to get out here,” Saldivar said. “Coming out and shooting the ball so well really helped our confidence. It was incredible to see. We were sharing the ball and getting good looks.” Antonio Biglow scored 15 points and Flavien Davis added 14 for the Bobcats (2-6), who whittled NAU’s 20-point second-half lead to 81-76 on Paul Egwuonwu’s layup with 43 seconds left. But the Lumberjacks made all six of their free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
“They started making their run at the 16:00 minute mark,” said Saldivar. “We did not have the same energy as we did in the first half. We have to fix that and play 40 minutes of basketball.”
NAU’s home loss to MSU last season snapped a 10-game home winning streak against the Bobcats.
Southern Utah 79, North Dakota 67
At Cedar City, Utah, Jackson Stevenett scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping Southern Utah start Big Sky Conference play with a win over fellow conference newcomer North Dakota.
Stevenett added a team-leading five assists. Wade Collie chipped in a career-high 18 points off the bench for the Thunderbirds (3-6), and Damon Heuir had 13.
Aaron Anderson led North Dakota (2-7) with 16 points but was just 3 of 9 from the field, part of a 30 percent team shooting effort. Mitch Wilmer had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
In the first-ever meeting between the schools, Southern Utah never trailed after the opening minutes, but Alonzo Traylor’s jumper pulled North Dakota within 62-59 with 3:56 left. An A.J. Hess 3-pointer and a Stevenett layup gave the Thunderbirds some breathing room, and Southern Utah hit nine free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
UC Davis 87, Eastern Washington 65
At Davis, Calif., Tyler Les scored 18 points and J. T. Adenrele had his first career double-double to help UC Davis beat Eastern Washington.
Adenrele had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Les, who came off the bench, was 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Three other Aggies scored in double figures. Josh Ritchart had 14 points, and Ryan Sypkens and Paolo Mancasola had 10 apiece.
UC Davis (2-6) never trailed in the game and led 40-32 at halftime.
The Aggies had just four turnovers and shot 50 percent from the field for the game, while Eastern Washington shot 33 percent.
“Our offensive balance is distorted as the stats show,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “We are going to have to have our (inside) guys really keep their confidence.”
Parker Kelly had 17 points for Eastern Washington (2-8). Justin Crosgile had 15 points, and Thomas Reuter had 10. Venky Jois led with 12 rebounds.
With the win, UC Davis broke its four-game losing streak.
Northern Colorado 90, Tabor 62
At Greeley, Colo., Paul Garnica scored 15 points to lead Northern Colorado to a 90-62 victory over Tabor on Monday night, ending a six-game losing streak.
Garnica was 5 of 8 from the field. Tim Huskisson added 14 points, and Emmanuel Addo came off the bench to score 14. Derrick Barden led with nine rebounds.
Northern Colorado, which led 41-18 at halftime, never trailed in the game. The Bears shot 48 percent (38 of 79) from the field for the game, while Tabor shot 32.8 percent (21 of 64). Tabor made 80 percent of its free-throw attempts.
Robbie Samuel had 12 points and five rebounds for the Bluejays, and reserve Justin Malan added 12 points and another five rebounds. Ryan Chippeaux also had five rebounds.
Tabor plays in the NAIA, where it has a 4-9 record.
Northern Colorado (2-6) will begin Big Sky Conference play Friday against North Dakota.