Poor shooting spoils potential upset for women’s basketball
Even its best defensive performance of the season could not counter a floundering offense as the NAU women’s basketball team fell to Idaho State University (ISU), 49–44, Saturday at Rolle Activity Center.
The 49 points allowed was a season low for the Lumberjacks (6–14, 1–7 Big Sky Conference), but the conference leading Bengals (14–5, 6–0 BSC) held on for the win, despite opening the second half 1-of-19 from the field.
“I thought it was our best defensive effort all year long,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “To only give up 49 points, that’s phenomenal. In the end though, we got to score points.”
The offense looked to be clicking early, as junior forward Tyler Stephens-Jenkins and senior forward Katie Pratt each hit 3—pointers in the game’s opening minutes to take an early 8–6 lead.
Following an ISU layup, NAU went on a 7–0 run capped off by a put-back layup for sophomore forward Trinidee Trice and took its largest lead of the game at 15–8 with 12:18 left in the first half. However, the Bengals answered with their own 9–0 run to claim the lead at 22–17 and never trailed again.
“It really was just like our shots weren’t falling, we missed a lot of chip shots,” said Trice. “The threes that really get us going, we didn’t hit those. We couldn’t fall back on that, the energy was just going downhill.”
The Lumberjacks scored 29 points in the game’s final 32 minutes and finished at 31.6 percent from the field, better than the Bengals’ 29.5 percent.
“We need to be able to finish layups and to be able to make free throws,” said Kelly. “It comes down to those very easy things.”
After Idaho State opened the second half up 30–26, the teams combined for nine points in the half’s first nine minutes to make the score 33–32 in favor of Idaho State.
That nine minute span is when the Bengals shot 1-of-19 from the field, but the Lumberjacks could only muster 3-of-13.
“I thought that we played selfish offensively,” said Kelly. “Move the ball, cut hard, read screens, play team basketball; that was our whole goal going in.”
After the Lumberjacks totaled 17 assists to 12 turnovers against the Wildcats of Weber State, NAU finished with nine assists and 19 turnovers against ISU.
“We went completely against what our game plan was,” Kelly said of the team’s assist to turnover ratio.
The Lumberjacks managed to keep it close, down 38-35 with 6:16 remaining. But the Bengals hit a 3—pointer and a layup to push the lead to 43-35, their largest of the game, and held on the rest of the way.
“We actually noticed, with about five minutes left in the half, this is a really low scoring half for both of us and we had only beat them about 1 point,” said Trice. “It was a great job defensively, but bad job offensively.”
The Lumberjacks have six days off before facing the Sacramento State Hornets (7-13, 2-5 BSC), who they lost to 91–85 in double overtime at Sacramento in December. The Lumberjacks will suit up at 6:35 p.m. on Jan. 28 in Rolle Activity Center.
“We got to beat Sac State,” said Kelly. “They are struggling really badly and they haven’t won on the road. There is no question; We lose that game, you can write yourself off.”