Sacramento State beats Northern Arizona to claim Big Sky women's tournament championship

Posted at 5:18 PM, Mar 08, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — The No. 1 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, coached by Havre native Loree Payne, fell to No. 3 Sacramento State 76-63 in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship game on Wednesday afternoon at Idaho Central Arena.

It was the second year in a row the Lumberjacks made the Big Sky championship game, and once again fell just short. The Lumberjacks finish the season 21-13, the most wins for the program since 2005-06 when they won 22.

This season caps Payne's sixth leading the program as NAU's turnaround has been drastic since a 7-23 campaign in 2017-18 in her first year on the job. Payne was named one of the Big Sky Coaches of the Year for her work this season.

Payne, one of the most decorated prep athletes to come from the Treasure State, also isn't the lone Montanan on her staff. This year marked the first that Huntley Project product TJ Harris was an assistant coach on Payne's staff after spending last year at Portland State. Harris, who grew up in Huntley, played college basketball at the University of Great Falls, now the University of Providence.