Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

2015 NIT Championship

Evansville, Stanford win postseason tournament titles


Thursday night two championships were determined, with the title games of the CIT and NIT being played. With Evansville winning the CIT and Stanford the Postseason NIT, the non-NCAA tournament portion of the 2014-15 schedule has been completed.

Marty Simmons’ Purple Aces became the second Missouri Valley Conference team to win a postseason event in as many days, with Loyola (IL) winning the CBI title on Wednesday, as they beat Northern Arizona 71-65 in Evansville. Egidijus Mockevicius led the way offensively for Evansville with 27 points and he also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

Guard D.J. Balentine, the team’s leading scorer on the season, chipped in with 16 points. Evansville shot just 1-for-10 from three but made up for that by scoring 20 points from the foul line, seven more than NAU. First team All-Big Sky selection Kris Yanku, who will be a junior next season, led Jack Murphy’s team with 18 points.

The Lumberjacks picked up the first postseason wins in school history in the CIT, and with Yanku leading the way they should once again be a factor in the Big Sky next season. As for Evansville they had just one senior this season, guard Jaylon Moore, and the returning depth and talent should mean good things for the Purple Aces in 2015-16.

As for the Postseason NIT, Stanford’s senior class of Anthony Brown, Stefan Nastic and Chasson Randle won the title as freshmen and Thursday night managed to do so as seniors. Randle scored 25 points to lead the Cardinal to a 68-66 overtime win over Miami at Madison Square Garden, earning MVP honors as a result.

Miami’s quest for the program’s first-ever postseason title fell short, as Sheldon McClellan was forced to double-clutch a corner three in the final seconds by the solid defending of Stanford’s Anthony Brown. McClellan led the Hurricanes with 17 points but did so on 5-for-16 shooting, with Davon Reed adding 16 points and Ja’Quan Newton ten. Stefan Nastic scored 11 points for Stanford before fouling out late in the second half.

Stanford has some key pieces to account for next season, as Brown, Randle and Nastic will all be out of eligibility. However they have some young talent, including guard Marcus Allen and forwards Rosco Allen, Michael Humphrey and Reid Travis, to work with this offseason.

As for Miami, Jim Larrañaga won’t lack for depth or talent in 2015-16. Miami didn’t have a senior on this year’s roster, and that includes two contributors in Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jekiri who missed Thursday’s game due to injury. With that being the case, Miami should be able to earn the NCAA tournament bid they missed out on this season in what will be an incredibly tough ACC.

Northern Arizona starting guard ruled academically ineligible

Jack Murphy
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Northern Arizona took a hit to its starting lineup this week as junior point guard Jalani Neely will be out for the rest of the season after being ruled academically ineligible. The news of Neely’s eligibility was reported by Cody Bashore of the Arizona Daily Sun.

A junior college transfer from Eastern Utah, Neely ran point for the Lumberjacks and appeared in 12 games in 2014-15, averaging 7.9 points, 2.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. Neely only shot 30 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range, but his arrival allowed sophomore guard Kris Yanku to play more off the ball. Neely last appeared in the Dec. 21 game against Hampton.

Neely played his high school ball at powerhouse Simeon in Chicago and was a high school teammate of Jabari Parker, helping the Wolverines win multiple Illinois Class 4A state championships.

Without Neely in the lineup, Yanku will likely slide to the point and senior Aaseem Dixon will be counted on to step up more as well.

The Lumberjacks currently sit at 6-9 (1-1 Big Sky) on the season as they defeated Portland State on Saturday.

Northern Arizona scores four points in four seconds to win at Saint Mary’s (VIDEO)

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There was a wild finish out west tonight, as Northern Arizona knocked off Saint Mary’s in Moraga, California.

It happened liked this: NAU was down by four with 50 seconds left before Quinton Upshur hit a three. After Brad Waldow was fouled with 18 seconds left, Kris Yanku scored a layup at the other end with just a few seconds left on the clock. Upshur stole the ensuing inbounds and laid the ball in.

Game over.

Here’s video of it:

Upshur finished with 26 points. Waldow had 25, 12 boards and six assists. The Gaels were coming off of a notable win at Creighton this weekend.