GAME NOTES: Big Sky Conference action is on tap at the Nest on Thursday night, as the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks pay a visit to the Sacramento State Hornets.
Dylan Garrity nailed a shot from behind the half-court line as time expired to give Sacramento State an improbable 78-75 win over Weber State last Saturday. The win was the second straight and third in the last five games for the Hornets, who are 8-11 overall and 4-6 in conference play. They will be at home once again next Monday against Southern Utah.
Northern Arizona also won in thrilling fashion in its last outing, as Kris Yanku's layup in the final seconds lifted it to a 67-65 triumph over Idaho State. The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Lumberjacks, who are just 9-12 overall, but tied for third place in the Big Sky standings at 6-4. They will also face Southern Utah in their next bout, although they get the chance on Saturday.
When these two teams met up at Walkup Skydome on Jan. 9, the hometown Lumberjacks came away with a 75-65 win. The victory was the third straight and 18th in the last 19 meetings between the squads. Northern Arizona leads the all-time series, 33-10.
There were only three field goals in the final four minutes between Northern Arizona and Idaho State, but the Lumberjacks got a late bucket by Kris Yanku to earn the two-point victory. Quinton Upshur paced NAU with 20 points, while Aaseem Dixon tacked on 18. Len Springs grabbed 11 rebounds for the victors.
Low-scoring affairs are nothing new for Northern Arizona, which ranks ninth in the Big Sky in scoring (68.1 ppg) and sixth in field goal percentage (.456). Opponents rarely run by the Lumberjacks, though, as they let up just 69.3 ppg on 45.1 percent shooting. Upshur (15.7 ppg), Max Jacobsen (13.6 ppg) and Dixon (12.6 ppg) are the top scoring threats for the unit.
Mikh McKinneyy drained four straight free-throws with seven seconds to play to give Sacramento State a 75-72 lead over Weber State. However, the Wildcats' Davion Berry hit a contested 3-pointer at the other end, leaving just enough time on the clock for Garrity to receive the in-bounds pass and throw up a desperation heave, which, luckily for the Hornets, fell through the net.
Sacramento State is also a low-scoring group, ranking 10th in the Big Sky in both scoring (67 ppg) and field goal percentage (.443). Just like the Lumberjacks, the Hornets have kept teams relatively close, by yielding just 69.1 ppg on 45.3 percent shooting. McKinney (15.2 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Garrity (13.5 ppg, 3.3 apg) are the only players on the team averaging in double figures, as they form quite the tandem in the backcourt. McKinney tied a career-high by scoring 30 points against Weber State, and Garrity chipped in with 13.
Now that the tables are turned in terms of hosting duties, the Hornets, who are a solid 5-2 at home this season, should be able to top the Lumberjacks in a grueling contest in which offense will be limited.
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