The Northern Arizona women's basketball team fought on the road, but a big fourth quarter by Idaho State propelled the Bengals to a runaway 76-59 victory Thursday night. The Bengals finished the game on a 17-6 run to turn away the Lumberjacks (4-17 overall, 1-9 Big Sky) in Reed Gym despite a game-high 21 points from redshirt senior Olivia Lucero.
NAU went into the fourth quarter down by just seven, 55-48, but Idaho State used a critical 11-0 run to put the game out of reach. Freshman Kaprice Boston's drive to the rim had NAU within striking range with 7:24 remaining at 59-53, only for the Lumberjacks to go more than five minutes without a field goal. The Bengals' knockout run followed Boston's layup, and sent the Lumberjacks to their seventh straight defeat.
A season-high 28 turnovers did not help the Lumberjacks' cause, with 17 marring an otherwise spirited first half.
Returning from a two-game absence due to injury, Lucero forced a quick Idaho State timeout after her first shot found the bottom of the net. However, the Bengals immediately answered the Lumberjacks' game-opening 6-0 run with a 10-0 run of their own. NAU bounced back and would take a 15-14 lead into the second quarter after freshman Lauren Orndoff hit a jumper in transition.
Following a 3 by redshirt senior Kenna McDavis, the Lumberjacks led 20-17 with seven minutes left in the first half, only for the Bengals to rattle off eight straight points. In all, Idaho State went on a 15-2 run after the McDavis triple before NAU scored the final five points of the half to slice its deficit in half to 32-27.
NAU pounded Idaho State on the glass in the first half, 20-14, which kept the Lumberjacks in the game in spite of their 17 turnovers at the half.
The Bengals scored the first seven points of the second half, prompting a Lumberjack timeout. Lucero refused to let Idaho State pull away, though, as she scored 13 points in the third quarter alone – matching the most points in a quarter by a Lumberjack this season. She scored nine during an 11-2 run, capped by a putback from freshman Khiarica Rasheed, that pulled NAU within 45-42 at the 3:33 mark of the third.
McDavis drilled her third 3 to open the fourth quarter scoring to make it a 55-51 score, but the Lumberjacks would not get any closer.
Lucero notched her sixth 20-point game of the season on 6-of-12 shooting. She was 7-for-9 at the free throw line and also added six rebounds. McDavis finished with 13 points, while Rasheed and Orndoff each scored eight. Rasheed tied Paplow for team-high honors with seven boards with Paplow also recording four of NAU's nine steals.
TRACK AND FIELD
The Lumberjacks host the prestigious Mountain T's Invitational Friday and Saturday at the Walkup Skydome.
In their opening two meets of the indoor season, Northern Arizona athletes have already set two new school records and several personal bests.
"On the women's side, Brooke Andersen will be throwing the weight and the way Nicole Fotinos is running, it will be exciting to watch her run again," said Lumberjacks director of track and field Michael Smith. "Jasmine Malone in the 200m and the 400m will be one to watch as well. Ashley Taylor is one to watch, too. She's making her debut in the 800m."
The meet will include more than 10 universities and 35 teams in total, including professional squads from Nike and Puma, and local teams in Team Run Flagstaff and Northern Arizona Elite.
"On the men's side, Southern Utah is back with their great sprinters that will challenge in our conference. We're looking for some good matchups with Kossi Tchenawou, Isaiah Kennedy and James Chevious III there," Smith said.
The Lumberjack distance athletes will be running almost complete squads from the men's and women's cross country teams in the fall. The women's team won the Big Sky Championships, and the men took home their second straight NCAA National Championship.
"You've got some of the best athletes in the history of NAU track and field competing on this track this weekend," Smith added. "We're hoping we can bring them out and get the support from Flagstaff and the NAU community to perform even better."