Men’s basketball loses intensity in second half, drops game to Idaho State
On the 25th anniversary of the 3-pointer being implemented, NAU celebrated in proper fashion by sinking 10-of-22 threes in its 78–62 loss to Idaho State University (ISU) in Pocatello, Idaho.
“We came out of the Weber game, I thought, with a pretty good taste in our mouth. I thought we had some good things going on,” said interim head coach Dave Brown. “We started this [first] half with some good intensity. The young men were well prepared to defend Idaho State’s stuff. When it came down to controlling the boards and continuing that intensity, we began to falter through the first half.”
The Lumberjacks shot 45.5 percent from the 3-point range, compared to their season average of 34.9 percent. 7 of their 10 came in the first half, with 2 apiece from freshman guard James Douglas and junior guard Michael Dunn. The Bengals combined with NAU to drain 10 threes in the opening frame. Despite this, NAU was out rebounded 38–22, with junior guard Ephraim Ekanem leading the Jacks with 6 boards.
“Michael Dunn is nails right now for us,” Brown said. “He is our leader and he is playing both ends of the floor. He is our real inspiration, I think, the way he has come to play every night.”
ISU junior guard Melvin Morgan opened the game with a 3-pointer, but NAU responded with an 11–2 run that began with junior guard Stallon Saldivar’s layup and ended with a Douglas 3, giving the team an 11–5 lead after six minutes of play.
Both teams committed double-digit turnovers in the first 20 minutes, 10 from NAU and 12 from ISU, but the Jacks took advantage of the Bengals’ turnovers by maintaining a lead for the majority of the first half.
NAU went on an 8–3 run in the middle of the first to push the Jacks lead to 11 points with 9:44 remaining. With the score at 21–10, ISU went on an 8–3 run and continued to chip away at NAU’s lead until the score was tied at 32 going into halftime.
“We gave them momentum,” Brown said.
The Jacks opened the second half and lost their momentum from the previous stanza, shooting 8–22 for 36.4 percent. ISU capitalized on NAU’s tapering, shooting 60.7 percent with 17-of-28 shooting.
“We were still getting the good looks [at the basket],” Dunn said. “Idaho State, as a team, stepped up their intensity defensively and looked a little tougher.”
ISU controlled the ball better in the second half, committing 8 turnovers, and NAU was not able to covert them like they did during the opening frame, and gave the ball up 10 times.
“We try to preach that in order to stay in the game, that we need to get a couple stops in a row and then convert on the offensive end,” Dunn said. “As the score did show, we weren’t able to do that [in the second half].”
The Lumberjacks were outshot 46–30 in the final frame, including a period of almost 5 minutes when NAU went scoreless. The Bengals jumped out to a quick lead in the opening minutes of the second and the Jacks were not able to catch up to them and spent the half trailing.
7 minutes into the second, ISU reached an 11-point lead, which ballooned to as much as 25, on a 38–13 run, with 5:24 remaining. NAU started a rally with 7 minutes left, cutting away at the deficit that included a 10–6 run, but ended the game 16 points behind ISU.
“The guys got in there and played hard,” Saldivar said. “They got an opportunity to come in and get some minutes.”