It may have taken a while for the Lumberjacks to realize beating Weber State was almost a given Thursday night.
Heading into the Dome against Northern Arizona as a winless team, the Wildcats showed they weren't just going to lie down and let the Jacks put the game in their win column, however.
After building a 10-point first-half lead, NAU used a strong paint game and turned its defense into points with turnovers and layups for a 76-55 win.
NAU improved its record to 4-11 overall and 3-3 in the Big Sky, while Weber fell to 0-16 and 0-7.
Following last Saturday's 1-point loss to Portland State, bouncing back with a win Thursday was important for NAU.
"We like winning and it's important that we win at home," NAU head coach Sue Darling said. "We've been getting better, so it's not only about winning but playing well and winning."
The Jacks got off to a slow start, almost going shot-for-shot with the Wildcats, but eventually started to settle into their game and built a small lead that slowly grew.
Senior guard Amy Patton -- who led NAU with a double-double on 22 points and 12 rebounds -- said it was a great team win.
"I think we're more of a team than any in my four years," Patton said. "We got things together in the second half after not playing the best first half. We knew we should beat this team, and we carried the momentum from halftime and took it to them in the second half."
Darling said overcoming the slow start was all about going back to the way the team performs in practice.
"We didn't settle for 3-point shots, we got in the paint and buckled down and rebounded," Darling said. "We're not where we want to be, but we're heading in the right direction."
NAU won the rebounding battle 43-36, and was able to get 10 second-chance points with offensive boards.
Not only did the Jacks put the ball back up after missed shots, but won the overall inside battle with 42 points in the paint.
Tyler Stephens-Jenkins said the Jacks potential for hitting the 3-point shots really opens teams up for an inside attack.
"We have a lot of good shooters and once we fake (defenders) go for the shot, and that lets us get the ball inside to the post," she said.
Stephens-Jenkins followed Patton with 13 points -- she hit 4 of 8 from behind the arc -- while both Paige Haynes and Patricia Gortarez added eight.
Gortarez was part of a 20-point game by the NAU bench, something that has taken a lot of pressure off the Lumberjack starters.
"The neat thing about practice is that everyone is getting better," Darling said. "We can bring in kids who don't play a lot and they'll do what we need to win and I'm really proud of them. "They're very capable whether they start or come in off the bench," Darling added.
NAU's defense played a solid game, holding the Wildcats to just three players in double figures. Desiree Ramos and Brittney Newcomb scored 15 each and Jalen Carpenter added 11.
Patton said the team has been fine-tuning its defense and the work in practice is showing in games.
"We've been working on defense a lot and it's improving a lot. We track the ball very well and our man defense is better. I think we played good defense," Patton said.
The Jacks end a four-game home stretch when they host defending champion Idaho State at 6:35 p.m. Saturday.
Darling said every game is crucial, and Idaho State presents problems that will leave the Jacks with their hands full.
"We're also playing hard and playing together, so they may have their hands full, too. We have a ton of respect for them, but we fear no team," she said.
Bill Harris can be reached at email@example.com or 556-2251.