Northern Arizona University Athletics has given women’s basketball head coach Loree Payne a five-year contact extension Tuesday. Coach Payne has been head coach for the past five seasons and has led the team to the most Big Sky Conference wins in a three-season stretch in NAU’s history. The NAU women’s basketball team has also totaled 51 Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete Awards since Payne joined the coaching staff in 2018. Coach Payne says she is looking forward to the upward trajectory of her team. She says, “I am grateful for my staff, as well as our former players who have laid the foundation for a championship program and I am beyond excited for our current and future student-athletes to elevate our program to the next level.” Payne also adds, “The future of NAU Women’s Basketball is very bright.” The Lumberjacks lose just three players to graduation, Khiarica Rasheed, Miki’ala Maio and Loren Orndoff. They have already added graduate transfer forward Montana Oltrogge from Idaho State, who averaged nine points a game in 2021 season for the Bengals. The last, and only time, NAU has made it to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament was in 2006, where the Lumberjacks were the 14-seed and lost to Baylor.