FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Senior guard Gabe Rogers scored a game-high 24 points as Northern Arizona pulled away from Idaho State in the second half to post a 67-58 victory Thursday night at the Walkup Skydome.
NAU (11-17, 8-9) held the Bengals to just three field goals in the second half to drop Idaho State to 5-22, 4-13 in Big Sky play.
"I thought our defense in the second half was pretty good to hold (Idaho State) to three baskets," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "The defense really got us kick started in the second half and it got us stops."
The two teams were within a basket on the scoreboard for the first eight minutes of the second half before NAU went on a 5-0 run to gain separation after the game was tied at 47. Freshman DeWayne Russell, who had 13 points in the contest, started the run with a three-pointer and senior Stallon Saldivar scored a layup off an ISU turnover.
Saldivar finished with 12 points off the bench in his first action in two weeks, returning from an ankle sprain suffered on Feb. 14 against Northern Colorado. He added five assists and three rebounds.
Rogers was an efficient 9-of-16 from the field with four three-pointers to finish with 24 points, reaching double digits for the 13th straight game.
"We talked about who was going to set screens to get Gabe open," said Murphy of the second half game plan. "Whether Gabe is scoring or not, we need him to touch the basketball because the entire defense shifts to Gabe when he gets it."
ISU shot just 15 percent in the second half after posting a blistering 54 percent (13-for-24) in the first 20 minutes. The Bengals stayed in the game at the charity stripe, outscoring NAU 24 to 7 for the game including a 14-for-18 mark in the second half.
Rogers opened the game with 12 points early in the contest and totaled 17 in the first half as the Lumberjacks built a 10-point lead at 29-19 with 7:33 left. Idaho State finished the half on an 11-0 run and led 38-35 entering the locker room.
"We had to come together as a team and figure out what we wanted to do," said Murphy. "We had given up 23 rebounds and were 1-of-5 at the line in the first half. Rebounding and making your free throws is just mental toughness."
NAU plays host to Weber State for the "White out" Weber game on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and will honor their five seniors in pre- and post- game ceremonies. The first 1,500 fans will receive FREE white rally towels and are encouraged to WEAR WHITE to the game. Papa John's will also give out free pizza coupons to the first 2,000 fans.
The Lumberjack Auction for Athletic Scholarships will be hosted prior to the game from 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the Skydome. Tickets are $20.00 per person if you already have a basketball game ticket or $30 without a game ticket. The auction ticket price includes entry to the auction, a game ticket in the reserved seating area, lunch courtesy of Jake's on the Green and a pre-game "chalk talk" from Men's Basketball Head Coach Jack Murphy.
This game will also feature a special halftime performance by the Amazing Christopher. To watch The Amazing Christopher, click here.
Purchase tickets today by calling 928-523-3389 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.