NAU women rally past Idaho State

FLAGSTAFF — The Northern Arizona women’s basketball won its second straight game Saturday, beating Idaho State 59-55 at the Rolle Activity Center. The women came back from a 10-point deficit in the second half and picked up their fourth win in Big Sky play this season.

“It was a great game with two quality teams working hard out there,” said NAU coach Laurie Kelly. “I think the difference was our defense. On offense, we played better team basketball and believed more in what we were doing. But the defense really played great tonight.”

NAU (9-15, 4-7 Big Sky) jumped ahead early and led 14-4 midway through the first half. 

“We had a lot of energy tonight,” said freshman guard Khyra Conerly. “We have started slow in some games, and we’ve tried to really focus on doing more at the start of games.  I think we just wanted it more this time.”

Idaho State responded after only one made field goal in the first 10 minutes and came back to tie the score at 16-16 after a 12-2 run. The score stayed within five points for the remainder of the first half, and the Lumberjacks entered the break down 26-24.

The Lumberjacks were down by as many as 10 in the second half but slowly chipped away at the Idaho State lead. NAU twice came within a point and finally took the lead with a 3-pointer from sophomore Amy Patton with seven minutes left.

Idaho State tied the score at 49-49 with five minutes to play on Kara Jenkin’s layup, but Tyler Stephens-Jenkins responded down the stretch, as the sophomore guard scored eight of the Lumberjacks final 10 points to help pull out the victory.

“I like taking shots late in the game,” said Stephens-Jenkins. “I want to think of myself as a clutch player and someone my teammates can count on. I have made some late second shots this season, so it feels great to make these shots for my teammates. We came out and won tonight with hard work.”

The Lumberjacks shot 38 percent for the game and limited Idaho State to 37 percent from the field. Patton finished with a team-high 14 points, followed by Stephens-Jenkins with 13. NAU outrebounded Idaho State 37-34 for the game and outscored the Bengals 21-2 off the bench.

“We are doing what we need to do and playing hard,” Kelly said. “We had a good week of practice this week and need to continue that.”