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Big Sky Notebook

December 24, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Sky Notebook

by Nicholas Lozito

A Kodiak Moment

Senior forward Aaron Bond scored a short-range bucket with 1.6 seconds remaining to give Northern Arizona a 74-73 road win over UNLV on Thursday. Sixth man Kodiak Yazzie fed the game-winning pass to Bond, giving the Lumberjacks their first road win of the season. Bond finished with fifteen points, while fellow starting forward Stephen Garnett led the team with 21 points.

On Saturday, the Lumberjacks defeated San Diego at home, 91-81, behind the shooting of guard Kelly Golob, who made 10-of-13 3-pointers en route to 30 points. Golob had made 33-of-70 (47 percent) shots from beyond the arc this season, including games where he had made 7-of-8, 4-of-5 and 6-of-7. The 6-foot-5 sophomore leads the team with 12.9 points per game.

The Lumberjacks have won three of their last four games. Their only loss in that span came to UC Riverside last Tuesday, when Northern Arizona turned the ball over 20 times in a 72-69 loss.

Top Dogs?

Last year’s Big Sky Championship Game participants, Eastern Washington (3-7) and Weber State (5-4), have both struggled to find wins this preseason. The Eagles have lost four of their last five games, with the only win coming at home last Monday against Santa Clara. Eastern Washington is 3-1 at home and 0-6 on the road.

One of the few bright spots for the Eagles has been the shooting of Washington transfer Josh Barnard, who is connecting on 56 percent from 3-point range. Eastern Washington’s only inside scoring threat is Marc Axton, who averages 11.1 points.

The Wildcats, who are 3-4 against Division I teams, have played five of their last six games on the road. After a 58-51 win last Tuesday over Portland at home, the Wildcats were crushed in Provo, Utah by BYU, 86-65. All-conference forward Slobodan Ocokoljic missed the game with the flu.

Weber State has struggled to get adequate production from their two point guards, junior college transfer Ryan Davis and Jamaal Jenkins, who combine to average 7.5 points and 5.5 assists.

Jenkins’ Dilemma

The Sacramento State Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday with a home victory over UC Irvine. But head coach Jerome Jenkins still has a problem on his hands: How to distribute playing time among six players and three spots.

Against Irvine, it was forward Jameel Pugh who played a mere 12 minutes and watched as starting forward Joel Jones helped lead the Hornets to victory. With all of the talent at the point, shooting guard and small forward positions, it may be something Pugh will have to get used to. While his dunking has impressed all, the rest of his offensive game has struggled since an 18-point performance in the Hornets’ opener.

Meanwhile, the sharp shooting of Brandon Guyton and Joseth Dawson’s ability to draw fould in the paint has cut into the playing time of point guard DaShawn Freeman. In a road game against New Mexico two weeks ago, walk on James Payne received more playing time than both Freeman and second string point guard E.J. Harris.

Expect to see Jenkins continue to shuffle his lineup until the Big Sky starts. He has about two weeks to find the right formula.

Player of the Week

Blake Walker: Averaged 23.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and three assists in two games this past week for Portland State.

Gazing the Sky

Eastern Washington Eagles (3-7)

The Eagles are in the middle of an eight-game stretch where they play seven on the road. They won the only home game in the stretch against Santa Clara, but have lost the first four road games — most recently to San Diego State, 79-66.

Senior guard Alvin Snow led the Eagles in the loss to the Aztecs with seventeen points. While Snow has increased his scoring average from last season, his steals per game have dropped from 2.2 to 1.1. In the win over Santa Clara, freshman forward Matt Nelson contributed fourteen points and eight rebounds.

The Eagles also lost at Cal State Fullerton, 77-70, earlier in the week. Fullerton is 2-2 this season against Big Sky teams.

Eastern Washington will next travel to Idaho on December 28. They will then travel to No. 11-ranked Gonzaga on December 31.

Idaho State Bengals (2-8)

Not good times in Pocatello. Idaho State has now lost five-straight games, including the last two on a road trip down south. The Bengals lost at New Orleans on Friday, 86-72, and at Texas Southern on Saturday, 73-63.

At New Orleans, Bengal forward Scott Henry led the team with nineteen points and five rebounds. Shooting guard Jeff Gardner had eighteen points and five assists while point guard Marquis Poole had twelve points and six assists. Johnell Smith led New Orleans with 27 points.

At Texas Southern, Gardner led all Bengals with sixteen points on 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Henry had a double-double with fourteen points and twelve rebounds.

Idaho State will next travel to BYU on December 29.

Montana Grizzlies (3-7)

After dropping three games this past week, the Grizzlies have now lost three straight games. Montana began the week with home losses to Washington State, 64-50, then to Jackson State, 71-64. They then lost on the road to Southern Illinois on Sunday, 82-71.

Steve Horne scored 25 points and grabbed six rebounds against Southern Illinois. After scoring in double digits in each of the first four games, forward Kamarr Davis has reached double digits just twice in the last six. He has also been in and out of head coach Pat Kennedy’s starting lineup.

The Grizzlies will next face Cal State Northridge at home on December 27.

Montana State Bobcats (3-5)

After dropping two games this week, the Bobcats have now lost for straight (noticing a trend?). The Bobcats lost at Wyoming last Saturday, 63-55, and at home to Denver, 81-79, this Saturday.

With seven seconds left against Denver and down by two, Frank Brown missed a 3-pointer for the Bobcats. Brown finished with eight points and five assists, while Jason Erickson led the Bobcats with nineteen points. Nick Dissly scored seventeen off the bench. The Bobcats wothe first game of a two-game series against Denver on December 3, 55-53.

Montana State will next host University of Mary on December 22 and Morgan State on December 29.

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (5-5)

Finally, a Big Sky team on the rise. Sadly enough, over a month into the season, Northern Arizona captured the conference’s biggest upset with a road win over UNLV. The Lumberjacks won despite the Rebels shooting 50 percent from the field.

The Lumberjacks won at home against San Diego on Saturday. As a team, Northern Arizona shot 17-of-34 from 3-point range.

They will next travel to Poughkeepsie, New York to play Marist College on December 28.

Portland State Vikings (4-5)

Big Sky coaches, say hello to Blake Walker. A junior college transfer, Walker dominated the competition this past week from the guard position. In the Vikings 74-55 thumping of cross-town rival Portland, Walker scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds. UTEP transfer Antone Jarrell also scored 20, hitting 5-of-8 3-pointers. After sitting out three games due to team suspension, forward Seth Scott, a preseason all-conference pick, played three minutes.

Walker scored 27 points in a near road upset against Boise State (7-1). The Vikings took Boise State to overtime, but two BSU free throws with 3.5 remaining in OT gave sealed the 75-74 win.

Portland State will kick off a four-game road trip at Cal State Northridge on December 22. They will then travel to Maryland Eastern Shore on December 27 and Tennessee State on December 30.

Sacramento State Hornets (4-5)

The Hornets snapped a four game losing streak on Saturday with a home win over UC Irvine. Hitting 4-of-8 3-pointers, Brandon Guyton led the Hornets with 12 points. Joseth Dawson hit 8-of-8 en route to 10 points. Freshman forward Alex Bausley, who has seen his playing time increase of late, hit two critical 3-pointers in the second half.

The Hornets will travel to Oregon State on December 22, host Long Beach State on December 27 and UC Riverside on December 29.

Weber State Wildcats (5-4)

The Wildcats went 1-1 this week with a home win over Portland, 58-51, and a road loss at BYU, 86-65. Forward Slobodan Ocokoljic scored twelve points and grabbed seven rebounds against Portland before sitting out the BYU game with the flu. BYU shot 58 percent from the field.

The Wildcats will host Winthrop on December 22 and travel to Troy State on December 29.


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