NAU dealt 7th straight Big Sky loss by Idaho St.
Despite a good start over the first 10 minutes Saturday night, the Northern Arizona men's basketball team dropped a 78-62 decision to Idaho State.
It was the seventh consecutive conference loss for NAU. The Lumberjacks finished the first half of league play at 1-7, while Idaho State improved to 5-14, 3-4 in Big Sky.
NAU led by 11 points early in the contest, but the Bengals came back to tie the score just before the half and carried the momentum into the second 20 minutes. After extending the lead to 10 points at 52-42, the Bengals went on a 14-0 run to pull away from the Lumberjacks, leading by as many 25 points. NAU was outscored 46-30 in the second half.
"The second half is about rebounding, and we really started to come apart with six minutes left in the first half," said NAU interim coach Dave Brown. "We had a nice lead and were playing with rhythm. To the Bengals' credit, they started cranking and crashing the boards. We gave them momentum."
Idaho State's Chase Grabau had a game-high 19 points for the Bengals, leading a 60.7 percent effort from the floor for Idaho State in the second half. The Lumberjacks shot just 36 percent to close the game after going 11 for 21 from the field in the first half. Kenny McGowen had 12 points and Melvin Morgan had 14 for the Bengals.
NAU hit 10 3-pointers in the game, including seven in the first half, equaling their second-best effort of the season in Big Sky play and second-best total of the season. But the Lumberjacks were outrebounded 38-22.
"Any time you get beat that bad on the boards, you are going to have a hard time winning," said Brown.
Junior Michael Dunn led the Lumberjacks with 14 points. Freshman guard James Douglas had 11 points after missing the contest against Weber State on Thursday due to illness. Junior Stallon Saldivar added 10 points.
The Lumberjacks led by as many as 11 points in the first half, holding a 19-8 advantage at the 9:44 mark of the first half after Dunn and Douglas combined to hit four straight 3-pointers. Saldivar, Rogers and Gruber each contributed another 3-pointer in the half, and NAU went 7 for 14 from beyond the arc as a team in the first 20 minutes.
Overall, NAU shot 52.4 percent from the field but had 10 turnovers. Seven different players scored in the opening half, with Douglas, Dunn and Saldivar each scoring six points.
Chase Grabau led Idaho State with 12 points, going 4 for 8 from the field and making all four attempts at the line.
NAU has now lost five straight in Pocatello. The Lumberjacks are 1-12
away from Flagstaff this season, with the lone victory coming against
Arizona State on Dec. 17. They are 0-5 in Big Sky play away from home.