The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (4-11) contended with the defending Big Sky Champs from Idaho State (9-7) but fell short in the second half to lose 52 to 48.
The Jacks came out with a bang and were fired up as senior guard Amy Patton won the tipoff, and junior guard Amanda Frost put the first points on the board with an easy basket. Strong communication and a solid defensive effort kept NAU on top as they blocked passes left and right.
However, an even stronger offense kept the Lumberjacks in possession of the ball, causing Idaho State to foul eight times in the first half.
NAU stayed hot as the Jacks scored 26 points in the paint, executed just under half of their attempted field goals and had the lead going into the half 33 to 28.
But, a different team, it appeared, was on the court the second half, as senior guard Paige Haynes said, "We didn't come out with the same fire, there was a different fire in our eyes, we just need to buckle down more with our ball pressure; ball pressure is important and we just didn't have that [in the second half]."
The first points from NAU were not scored until seven and a half minutes into the second half and only 15 points in total were made by the Jacks in this half. Where NAU made 48.4 percent of their field goals in the first, they only completed 19.2 percent of their shots in the second.
Head coach Sue Darling believes that the team is strong physically, but now needs to believe in themselves.
"Where we had great effort, great energy, and great execution in the first half, we had none of that from the very beginning in the second half, it's not a physical thing, it's a mental thing; we don't have the maturity to close out a close game, that's going to be the next step," Darling said.
Both Haynes and senior guard/forward Tyler Stephen-Jenkins want to change the way NAU women's basketball is perceived.
"Just the history of this program, we're trying to turn it around, we know we can win, we just need to have that mentality out on the road, too," Haynes said.
"For the past years we had a different mindset, we accepted losing ... now, we refuse to lose," Stephen-Jenkins added.
The Lumberjacks will be on the road at 7 p.m.Thursday against the Northern Colorado Bears. Going into the next game, Darling knows what this team needs to do to come out with the win.
"We will play exactly how we practice and if we can deliver in the clutch in practice, we'll be able to deliver it in the clutch in the game; repetition is the key to learning."