NAU falls apart late, losing to ISU 79-76

Redshirt junior guard Caitlin Malvar (3) turns against Idaho State University players in the first quarter of the game at the Walkup Skydome, Feb. 6.

The NAU women's basketball team was shocked by a fourth quarter performance from the Idaho State University (ISU) Bengals, as the Lumberjacks were defeated 79-76 at the Walkup Skydome Thursday night. Despite a sloppy defensive second quarter, the Lumberjacks jumped ahead of ISU and did not look back as they held a double-digit lead nearly the entire game. It proved to be NAU's demise, as the Bengals inched ahead at the last second to take the victory in a heart wrenching fourth quarter spectacle.

The Lumberjacks were on the money, especially junior guard Lauren Orndoff, shooting 3-6 at the 3-point line. She ended the first quarter with 11 points to put NAU ahead 23-8 at the start of the second quarter.

The Lumberjacks started to slip defensively in the second quarter, as the Bengals scored 20 points to close the lead to 39-28 at the end of the first half. Orndoff capitalized on a few wide open opportunities to make big scoring plays and keep the Lumberjacks ahead. She led both teams in points with 16 at the half.

NAU had a strong third quarter, keeping the lead and working wide open lanes against a flustered ISU defense.

The Lumberjacks looked unstoppable and could have run away with the lead, but as the final quarter of play ensued, the story dramatically shifted.

ISU freshman guard Diaba Konate rallied the Bengals with a huge impact performance to give them the lead with less than a minute left in regulation. Konate started the second half with just 7 points but took a commanding presence on the court to finish the night with 32 points. Konate scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to spark a comeback that led the Bengals to victory.

The Lumberjacks could not get one in the net in the final seconds, as they fell to ISU 79-76.

“We‘ve gotten comfortable, and that’s something no team in the Big Sky can do this year,” NAU head coach Loree Payne said. “We’re not good enough to be comfortable and that showed tonight.”

With the loss, The Lumberjacks record fell to 11-10 and 8-4 in conference play, as they look ahead to face the Weber State University Wildcats Saturday. The Wildcats are currently ranked 10th in the Big Sky Conference with a 3-17 overall record and are 1-10 in conference play.