The Northern Arizona women's basketball team overcame a slow start to notch their third consecutive victory, 70-59, over Idaho State on Saturday in Reed Gym. The Lumberjacks improved their Big Sky Conference record to 3-2, marking the program's best start to league play since the 2006-07 season.
Khiarica Rasheed imposed her will on the game in the second half, scoring 21 of her game-high 25 points after halftime. Rasheed was a perfect 9 for 9 in the second half from the field and nearly outscored Idaho State by herself in the fourth quarter with 12 points to 16 total by the Bengals.
"Khia started hitting shots and we know when she starts to we have to feed her," Lumberjacks head coach Loree Payne said. "She really knocked down some really critical shots and Jacey (Bailey) played some big-time defense with a couple of blocks in the fourth quarter."
Rasheed was 10 for 14 from the field for the game and added seven rebounds, and Bailey chipped in 13 points and matched Rasheed's seven boards to go along with a career-high three blocks.
The Lumberjacks, now 6-8 overall, held a slim advantage, 47-43, going into the fourth quarter before opening the period with a 9-2 run that boosted their lead to 56-45 following a Rasheed jumper. After the Bengals closed to 60-54 with less than three minutes remaining, Rasheed scored seven straight points during a 7-2 run that put her team back up by 11, 67-56, with a minute left.
Northern Arizona started slow in the road game, making just two of its first 11 attempts from the field as it fell behind 21-7 in the first seven minutes of the game. The Lumberjacks gathered themselves and finished the first quarter on a 6-0 run with baskets by Bailey, Nina Radford and Regan Schenck.
The run to close the first quarter was just the start of a 21-0 extended outburst -- the longest by the Lumberjacks this season -- well into the second quarter. Schenck's three from straight away gave Northern Arizona a 28-21 lead with under five minutes left in the first half.
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The Bengals went more than eight minutes without scoring, missing 13 consecutive field goal attempts before they snapped the drought with a bucket with 4:37 before halftime. Idaho State proceeded to scored eight straight points to retake a 29-28 lead before going into halftime with a slim 31-30 advantage.
"We missed a couple of easy buckets and we were a step slow defensively," Payne said. "Our team knew once we started playing like we are capable of, we would get back into it. We started executing much better, and having only six turnovers in the second half after 10 in the first half, helped us play composed down the stretch."
Rasheed's second-half exploits started early as she powered an 8-0 run in the third quarter with six points to put the Lumberjacks back in front, 38-34. Idaho State managed to tie it at 38-38, but that would be the last time the score would be even as Lauren Orndoff started a brief, but important, five-point spurt by Northern Arizona with a layup.
After going 10 years without a win in Pocatello, Northern Arizona has now emerged victorious in each of its last two trips to the Bengals' home. The victory was especially impressive considering the Lumberjacks played a double-overtime game at home on Thursday before hitting the road on Friday.
"It was huge for our team to finally see some success," Payne said.
Radford added nine points and a team-high four assists, while Schenck scored seven points off the bench.
The Lumberjacks are back in the Walkup Skydome next week with their final homestand of the month. Northern Arizona hosts Southern Utah at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Northern Colorado at 1 p.m. next Saturday.