Photo by Karsen Welch King
POCATELLO, Idaho – Senior guard Gabe Rogers had a game-high 22 points and hit four free throws in the final minute to lead Northern Arizona to a 60-55 Big Sky Conference road victory over Idaho State Saturday night.
"I am so proud of our guys for grinding out a win on the road against a very good team," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "It is a really good Idaho State team. They had won three of their last four entering our game and are going to be a real difficult team to beat at home and on the road."
NAU snapped a 12-game regular season road conference losing streak to improve to 6-12 and 3-5 in league play. The Lumberjacks won on the road for the second time this season, snapping a six-game road losing streak and overall four-game drought.
Freshman Jordyn Martin scored four points late in the game to help secure the win. Martin scored on a layup to give NAU a 54-51 lead with two minutes left. He was fouled on the next possession, hitting a pair at the line to extend the lead to 56-51. He finished with five rebounds.
Rogers did the rest for the Lumberjacks. After a missed basket by the Bengals, Rogers was fouled and converted both attempts at the line to push the lead to 58-53. NAU turned the ball over after being called for a foul away from the ball and the Bengals' Melvin Morgan converted the possession with a running layup to cut the lead to 58-55.
After Bewernick was fouled and missed a pair at the line, Morgan went to the line after a Michael Dunn foul with 11 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and Stallon Saldivar secured the rebound. Rogers was fouled again with six seconds on the clock and hit both free throws to seal the game.
"'I thought the guys did a great job in the last few minutes of the game," said Murphy. "They controlled the pace, did a good job on the boards and took care of the basketball. When they had to go to the line, for the most part, they made their free throws. We did a good job knocking them down when we had the opportunity tonight."
Rogers tallied 22 points with the help of four three-pointers and his 4-for-4 finish at the line. He was 7-for-17 from the field against the Bengals.
"Gabe was clutch for us," said Murphy. "When he shoots it like that and is able to get open shots, we are a different team. When we shoot the basketball like we did tonight, we are a different animal and are tough to guard. It was proven tonight."
DeWayne Russell shot 7-for-12 from the field to add 19 points for the Lumberjacks. Bewernick finished with a career-high 14 rebounds and Saldivar added six points for NAU.
Idaho State (4-13, 3-5 BSC) had three players in double figures led by the 11 points by Tomas Sanchez. The Bengals shot 40.8 percent and were out-rebounded by the Lumberjacks 36-27.
The Lumberjacks opened the game with the hot hand beyond the arc, hitting three triples in the opening minutes of the contest. Overall, NAU hit 5-of-9 attempts in the first half but shot just 42 percent overall from the floor and had nine turnovers. NAU led for most of the first half before going into the locker room tied at 30 at halftime.
Bewernick had a big first half on the boards with nine rebounds, while Rogers and Russell combined for 15 points.
NAU returns home for a pair of games this week against Northern Colorado and North Dakota. The Lumberjacks host UNC on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. in the Walkup Skydome.
"A big thing for us is confidence and I am sure that is true for a lot of teams in this conference," said Murphy. "You have to have confidence when you go out and play. Coming off a win you have confidence and we come back home now. It will be our first home game in a long time with students able to be there. We ask everyone to come out Thursday and Saturday and pack the Dome to get the home court environment going. Hopefully, it will energize the Flagstaff community and campus to come out and support us."
It is the first of three "School Nights". Students who attend Killip, Puente, Mount Elden and Thomas schools and their guests can buy a $5 game ticket. To purchase single game tickets for these games, click here or call 928-523-5661.