NAU can’t complete comeback, suffer loss at Vandals’ hands

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Victor Sanders scored 21 points and Brayton Blake added 16 points off the bench as Idaho held off Northern Arizona late to post a 77-75 Big Sky Conference victory Thursday night.

Blake hit two free throws with 26 seconds remaining to give the Vandals a 76-72 lead, but Kye de Laveaga hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to cut Lumberjacks’ deficit to one, 76-75. Nate Sherwood hit the first of two free throws to pad the lead with four seconds.

Idaho (16-12, 11-6) built a 20-point lead in the first half and it needed all of it to earn the win. The Vandals shot 23 of 43 from the field (53.5 percent) and knocked down 11 of 19 from deep.

“Obviously, it was a great battle the last 15 minutes of the game,” NAU coach Jack Murphy said. “Our defense wasn’t what it needed to be in the first half, but give credit to our opponent for hitting shots. When we started to buckle down and show some resistance on the defensive side of the ball, though, it led to good offense. Unfortunately, just came up a little short.”

Marcus DeBerry scored 13 points and Jordyn Martin, Ako Kaluna and de Laveaga each contributed 12 points.

Idaho completes its regular season Saturday at Southern Utah. Northern Arizona’s home finale features Eastern Washington.