"We came out a little flat," confessed Will Bynum. "The press started working in the second half."
Patience on offense and good three-point shooting kept NAU close. The Lumberjacks shot 42.9% from behind the arc and 53.1% ovefall in the first half. For the game the Lumberjacks shot 33% from three point land.
Hassan Adams made it look easy again. For the second straight game the true freshman went over the 20-point mark, scoring 21-points off the bench. He scored 22 against Western Kentucky.
Jason Gardner was an outstanding 5-of-6 from behind the arc on his way to a game-high 24 points. He added five assists and five rebounds on the night. His backcourt mate Bynum nailed six three pointers, scoring 18 points and dishing out four assists.
Early Wildcat miscues allowed the Lumberjacks to get out to an early lead that they would hold for most of the first half. After scoring the first five points of the game, Arizona committed four early turnovers which allowed NAU to go on a 9-0 run.
"I thought Northern did a nice job in the first half," said Lute Olson. "They were well prepared. Mike (Adras) and his staff did a nice job."
The Wildcats forced two-straight turnovers via the press, but after taking back the lead they could not sustain the momentum. Anderson's steal and dunk put Arizona up 11-9, but NAU came right back to regain the lead a few moments later on a Kelly Golob three-pointer.
Over the next eight minutes NAU had all the answers. Every time Arizona would claw back into the lead, the ‘Jacks would answer with a three-pointer. Arizona didn't get any kind of a cushion until back-to-back three pointers by Will Bynum and Andre Iguodala propelled the Cats on a 10-0 run and a 36-29 lead.
NAU kept fighting and a technical foul by Isaiah Fox gave the Lumberjacks a four point play and had them within two points, but Jason Gardner hit a three pointer with just seconds left in the half to put Arizona up by five, 44-39, heading into the locker room.
Out of the locker room Arizona ratcheted-up the defense and sprinted out to a 15-0 run that gave them a comfortable 18-point cushion. The Cats started the second half just like the first, with Channing Frye buckets. Adams then went to work, scoring six of the next 11 Wildcat points.
"We know if we keep the intensity up we can go on a run at any time," Adams said. "It will be like that all season."
NAU was down by as many as 20, but used the three ball to trim the lead. Golob hit a pair of long balls and Arizona's lead was down to just 13, 63-50 midway through the half.
The Wildcats wasted little time toying with NAU and rattled off seven straight points to stave off another NAU run. The Lumberjacks fought valiantly but three UA threes, a pair by Bynum and the third by Gardner propelled a 13-2 run which finally buried the gutsy Lumberjacks.