NAU pulls away from Montana State for big win

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Max Jacobsen and Kris Yanku scored 16 points each as Northern Arizona ran away with a 61-48 win over Montana State on Thursday.

Yanku was just 4 of 13 from the floor but hit 7 of 9 free throws. Jacobsen was 7 of 10 shooting with nine rebounds. Gaellan Bewernick added 10 points and nine boards. NAU (14-16, 11-8 Big Sky) benefited from a 19-9 advantage in points off turnovers and a 38-19 rebounding edge.

Marcus Colbert led Montana State (14-16, 9-10) with 13 points while Terrell Brown had 12.

Montana State led 21-12 on Colbert’s 3-pointer midway through the first half, but Northern Arizona clawed back to tie and went ahead 33-29 going into the break.

The Bobcats went stone cold in the second half, shooting just 6 of 23. The Lumberjacks used a 14-0 run early in the frame that covered 9:02 and ran away with the win.

NAU defeated Montana State 61-48 as the team was able to dominate the game defensively and on the glass winning the rebound battle 38 to 19.

"We played as good as we did all year on defense," said NAU coach Jack Murphy. "Montana State is a good team. For us to fight back the way we did was incredible. We’re very proud of our defense tonight. Guys stepped up tonight, and it was great. Their entire defense was focused tonight on shutting down Quinton Upshur, and that allowed for other guys to get open."

The two teams exchanged baskets in the early stages of the game before Montana State went on an 11-2 run to take a 21-12 lead with 10:02 remaining.

NAU then responded with a run of its own, though, outscoring Montana State 21-8 run over the final 10 minutes of the first half to go into the break up by four. Jacobsen led the Lumberjacks with 10 points in the first half.

The beginning of the second half resembled that of the first, as the two teams exchanged points early on, but NAU took control by turning up the defensive intensity and holding Montana State without a field goal from the 12:55 mark to the 3:17 mark while going on a 14-3 run. The Lumberjacks allowed just 11 points in the final 13 minutes of the game, with the Bobcats shooting 26 percent from the field and converting on just six field goals in the second half.

"We’ve been working really hard in practice," Jacobsen said. "Everyone has improved and has stepped up their rebounding and defense. We’re playing better team ball all around right now. I think our second-half defense was the best we played all year."