NAU Defeats UM 73-65 in Big Sky Conference Opener

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com

The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks had three starters combine for 62 points, as they defeated the University of Montana Grizzlies 73-65 Thursday evening in the Big Sky Conference opener for the teams in UM’s Dahlberg Arena.

The lost snapped a 31-game home win streak in league games by the Grizzlies.  Montana had gone undefeated at home in Big Sky games the last three straight seasons (2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13).

UM’s last league loss at home was 73-67 to Montana State in its final regular-season game in 2009-10.  The Griz went on to win the conference tournament that season and advance to the NCAA tournament, losing 62-57 to New Mexico.

The Grizzlies (0-1/5-5) led 37-29 at halftime, but the Lumberjacks (1-0/4-8) out-scored them 9-2 to start the second half, and took a 41-39 lead with 14:40 to go on a 3-point shot by junior guard Aaseem Dixon.

After Dixon’s trey, the Griz tied the game for the fourth and final time at 41-41 on a lay-up by senior guard/forward Kareem Jamar, but NAU took the lead back on a jumper by senior forward Max Jacobsen, and led the rest of the game.

NAU took what looked like a commanding double-digit, 11-point lead (66-55) with 3:22 left to play on a conventional three-point play on a lay-up and subsequent free throw by Jacobsen.

But, Montana battled back, and when junior guard Jordan Gregory made two free throws with 1:32 left to play the Griz had trimmed the NAU lead to on point at 66-65.  However NAU responded, as junior guard Quinton Upshur nailed a 3-pointer and Dixon made four free throws in row, giving the Jacks a 71-65 advantage with 22 seconds remaining.

Grizzly Basketball JamarJamar led the Griz with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.  Gregory was UM’s other double-figure scorer with 17points.

Jamar now has 1,306 career points which moves him up to 10th on Montana’s career scoring list, as he passed forwards Derrick Pope (1,289 points, 1980-83) and Shawn Samuelson (1,293 points, 1993-96).

Dixon scored a game-high 23 points, while Jacobsen had 21, and Upshur added 18.

The Jacks were on fire from the floor in the second half, making 17-of-22 shots for 77.3%, and they also nailed all four of their 3-point attempts.

Overall NAU shot 58.7% (27-of-46) from the floor and 63.6% (7-of-11) from 3-point range in the game, while UM was 40.0% (22-of-55) and 10-of-26 (38.5%) . The Jacks out-rebounded the Griz 33-24.

The Grizzlies host the Sacramento State Hornets this Saturday, Jan. 4, with a 7:05 p.m tip-off in Dahlberg Arena.  The Hornets lost 70-55 at Montana State tonight.  NAU is at MSU this Saturday.

NORTHERN ARIZONA (4-8, 1-0 BSC): DIXON, Aaseem 8-9 4-4 23; JACOBSEN, Max 10-13 1-4 21; UPSHUR, Quinton 6-12 2-3 18; BEWERNICK, Gaellan 2-5 2-2 6; SPRINGS, Len 1-2 3-4 5; KALUNA, Ako 0-0 0-0 0; MARTIN, Jordyn 0-1 0-0 0; YANKU, Kris 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 27-46 12-17 73.

UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA (5-5, 0-1 BSC): JAMAR, Kareem 7-14 6-8 21; GREGORY, Jordan 5-12 2-2 17; WEISNER, Mike 3-10 0-0 8; DESHIELDS, Keron 2-4 0-0 6; DUNN, Mario 2-5 1-2 5; MARTIN, Andy 1-3 2-2 4; HUTCHISON, Eric 2-3 0-0 4; GFELLER, Brandon 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 11-14 65.

Northern Arizona…………….. 29 44 – 73

University of Montana……… 37 28 – 65

3-point goals–Northern Arizona 7-11 (UPSHUR, Quinton 4-7; DIXON, Aaseem 3-3; JACOBSEN, Max 0-1), University of Montana 10-26 (GREGORY, Jordan 5-10; DESHIELDS, Keron 2-2; WEISNER, Mike 2-7; JAMAR, Kareem 1-4; GFELLER, Brandon 0-3).

Fouled out–Northern Arizona-None, University of Montana-None.

Rebounds–Northern Arizona 33 (BEWERNICK, Gaellan 8; SPRINGS, Len 8), University of Montana 24 (JAMAR, Kareem 8). Assists–Northern Arizona 9 (DIXON, Aaseem 4), University of Montana 11 (JAMAR, Kareem 7).

Total fouls–Northern Arizona 15, University of Montana 19. Technical fouls–Northern Arizona-None, University of Montana-None.

Attendance: 3,883

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