NAU upends South Dakota 76-72 to remain perfect at home
College Men's Basketball
FLAGSTAFF — NAU men’s basketball closed out the game with a 7-0 run over the final 74 seconds of regulation to post its third consecutive victory with a 76-72 win over South Dakota on Saturday afternoon at the Rolle Activity Center.
The decisive spurt opened with a three-pointer by sophomore Luke Avdalovic, which tied the game at 72-72 with 1:12 left. The Lumberjack defense then forced the first of back-to-back turnovers by the Coyotes before Cameron Shelton knocked down a pair of free throw to give NAU a two-point edge at 74-72.
Shelton then sealed the victory with a steal on the next South Dakota possession and the ‘Jacks added two more three throws for the final margin.
“We showed poise and confidence down the stretch and that was tremendous to see,” said NAU head coach Shane Burcar. “After we got down in the second half, we kept within ourselves and stayed confident. The guys performed well at crunch time to get a win.”
South Dakota did not make a single field goal for the final 3:45 of regulation.
“We just came together as a group and said to each other that it is all about getting stops,” NAU junior Bernie Andre said. “We knew they were a great three-point shooting team and we emphasized that at practice and put it into play on the court today.”
Overall, the contest featured five ties and eight lead changes – six of those lead changes came during the final 20 minutes of action. The Lumberjacks held the lead for all but 8:24 of game time.
The win improves the ‘Jacks to a perfect 3-0 at home and marks the first time they have posted three straight victories on their home floor since the 2014-15 season. NAU now sits at 3-1 overall, while South Dakota slips to 6-2 following the loss.
The Lumberjacks took control early as it opened a 15-point lead at the 9:42 mark of the first half after three free throws by Avdalovic made the score 24-9.
South Dakota pushed back with an 11-4 spurt to close out the half and entered the break only trailing by one at 33-32.
The Coyotes opened the second half with a three-pointer on their initial possession to claim the lead for just the second time at 35-33. It didn’t last long as the ‘Jacks ripped of an 11-0 burst to open a 47-39 bulge with just over 15 minutes remaining.
South Dakota regained a 58-57 lead on a layup by Ty Chisom at 7:34 of the second half and went on outscore the ‘Jacks 12-5 over the next four minutes to open up its largest advantage of the game at 70-62 with 3:45 left.
NAU would go on to outscore the Coyotes 14-2 the rest of the way to secure the win.
A total of four players finished with double-figure scoring efforts for the ‘Jacks, led by Andre and Avdalovic – who each finished with a team-high 17 points. Andre added nine rebounds and Avdalovic drilled four treys and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Brooks DeBisschop chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds – which allowed him to surpass 500 boards for his career. Shelton rounded out the scoring leaders with 10.
Stanley Umude paced the Coyotes in defeat with a game-high 18 points and added 14 rebounds for the double-double. Chisom and Cody Kelly added 17 each.
NAU finished the game with only six turnovers, while forcing South Dakota into 14 miscues.
The victory also marked the first for NAU head coach Shane Burcar against an NCAA Division I opponent.
The Lumberjacks continue the current run of home games on Wednesday, Dec. 4 in a 6 p.m. MST tip against UC Davis at the Rolle Activity Center.
NAU’s meeting with the Aggies will be aired live on Pluto TV (539) and the Lumberjack Radio Network.
—Information provided by NAU Athletics