Frost has 38 pts, but can’t get NAU women to postseason

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                </div>  The Northern Arizona University women’s basketball program continues to be a graveyard for high hopes and big dreams. For four years, that was the fate of Amy Patton.  This […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The Northern Arizona University women’s basketball program continues to be a graveyard for high hopes and big dreams.

For four years, that was the fate of Amy Patton.  This year Amanda Frost assumed the role and will leave just as unfulfilled as her predecessor, who re-set most of the school’s records but couldn’t pull the program out of the ditch.

Frost scored 38 points Thursday night against Montana State, a career high and the sixth time this season she has posted 30 or more points in a game.  But it wasn’t enough, and the Lumberjacks dropped perhaps the most important game of the long season.

The 99-85 loss in Bozeman put the final nail in the coffin for this season.  A win would have kept them in contention for a berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, with a big challenge still ahead.  They would also have had to beat Montana, the third-place team in the conference, in tonight’s final game of the regular season.

But now that final game has become meaningless and Frost will close out her college career with some memorable games – but without the championship she had come to help secure for the Flagstaff school.  She has admitted all along that one of the primary reasons she decided to transfer in from Fullerton College after her freshman season was to get the Lumberjack program to the top of the conference.

That’s not going to happen.  The Jacks will finish in familiar territory in the bottom portion of the Big Sky.  Their 6-13 conference record (9-19 overall) has them sitting in a tie with Portland State for ninth place in an 11-team conference.

Frost has been there before, for every year she has been in Flagstaff.  She finished her sophomore and junior seasons as the second-highest scorer on the team, behind Patton, but really felt like she could make a difference as a senior, trying to step up and fill the void left by Patton.

And that was a huge crater of a void.  Patton led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes played since her sophomore season and finished her career as the all-time leading scorer in program history with 1,938 points.  Along the way she broke a 25-year-old record for single-season scoring with 539 points – as a freshman.

The local product from McClintock High School in Tempe set new school records for scoring, rebounding, and field goals made and closed out her career by outscoring every player in the conference, averaging 17.2 points a game as a senior.

And despite all those contributions, she wasn’t able to enjoy the rewards of a winning season – much less a successful tournament run.  Three of her seasons in Flagstaff, the Jacks didn’t even reach double-digit wins.  Unfortunately, a change in head coaches for the 2011-12 season, when Sue Darling took over, hasn’t been able to turn the tide – at least not yet.

This year, the same fate and frustration has befallen Frost.  And the loss against Montana State provides a snapshot of the entire season.

The 5’8″ guard from Riverside, Calif., poured in 38 points, hit three of her five three-point attempts, pulled down five rebounds, and threw in three assists for a full night’s work.  She had four more points than her opponents’ top two scorers combined.

She even had some help with the offense as three other players scored in double digits.  Guard play contributed 27 points, as Rene Coggins had 14 points and Brittani Lusain pitched in 13, and the 6’2″ center, Raven Anderson, added 13 more.  Two of the three are local talent, Coggins from Mesa’s Mountain View High School and Anderson from Chandler High.

But Montana State controlled the boards, 45-30, and had the advantage in the paint, outscoring the Jacks down low, 48-36.

However, the real difference came off the bench.  The Bobcats got almost half of their scoring from a deep bench and enjoyed an overwhelming 43-5 advantage in that part of the game.

But next year, NAU may be able to begin spreading the scoring around more than in recent years when the Jacks had to depend on contributions from an all-star.  Coggins and Lusain are freshmen and Anderson is a junior.

And next year it will be someone else’s turn to pick up the fallen sword and try to lead this program out of the mountains and into the postseason.

(Photo: NAU Athletics)