POCATELLO, Idaho – Despite a good start over the first 10 minutes, the Northern Arizona men's basketball team dropped a 78-62 decision at Holt Arena Saturday night.
It was the seventh consecutive conference loss for NAU. The Lumberjacks finished the first half of league play at 1-7. ISU 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 game at the half and carried the momentum into the second half. 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 out-scored 46-30 overall 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 Interim Head Coach Dave Brown. "We had a nice lead and were playing with rhythm. To the Bengal 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 ISU in the second half. The Lumberjacks shot just 36 percent to close the game after going 11-for-21 from the floor in the first half. Kenny McGowen had 12 points, while Melvin Morgan had 14 for the Bengals.
NAU had 10 three-points 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.
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, including a 0-5 in Big Sky play away from home.
NAU was out-rebounded 38-22 in the game.
"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, coming out of the locker room shooting from the beyond the arc. NAU led 19-8 at the 9:44 mark of the first half as Dunn and Douglas hit four straight triple. Saldivar, Rogers and Gruber all contributed a three-pointer in the half as NAU went 7-for-14 beyond the arc.
Overall, NAU shot 52.4 percent from the field but had 10 turnovers and were out-rebounded 18-9. Seven different players scored in the opening half with Douglas, Dunn and Saldivar each scoring six points.
After a slow start, the Bengals closed the half with a strong run, tying the game at 32 right before the half. Chase Grabau led ISU with 12 points, hitting 4-of-8 from the field and making all four attempts at the line.
The Lumberjacks start the second half of Big Sky Conference play next Saturday, traveling to Sacramento State. The Lumberjacks will then play six straight at home including the BracketBusters game. Tipoff against the Hornets is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. NAU opened league play with a win over Sacramento State in late December.