NAU pulls away from Portland State in second half

Freshman guard Kris Yanku had a career-high 17 points Saturday in NAU's 77-56 win over Portland State.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — After being tied with Portland State at 31-all at the half, Northern Arizona scored 46 points in the second half to pull away for a 77-56 victory Saturday at the Walkup Skydome.

"I think we weren’t pushing the pace in the first half," said NAU coach Jack Murphy. "In the second half we got stops, began to push the basketball and got some good shots."

It was a tale of two halves for NAU, but fortunately it was in the second half when the Lumberjacks stepped up their game. After shooting 48.3 percent in the first half and connecting just a trio of 3-pointers, NAU (8-9 overall, 5-1 Big Sky) found its rhythm early in the second and went on a 14-0 run that led to a 52-39 lead. The Lumberjacks shot 70.4 percent in the second half and held the Vikings to 33.3 percent from the floor.

A career-best performance by freshman guard Kris Yanku aided the Lumberjacks’ efforts, as Yanku netted 12 of his 17 points in the second half. Senior forward Max Jacobsen also registered 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half for the Lumberjacks, who earned their fourth straight win.

The victory keeps NAU at least tied for first place in the league. The Lumberjacks’ 5-1 Big Sky start is their best since the 2007-08 season, when they started 6-1.

Portland State (7-8, 2-4 Big Sky) was led by Gary Winston, who scored 13 points, and Brandon Cataldo, who had 10 points and four rebounds.