The No. 6 Lumberjacks faced off against the No. 11 Idaho State University (ISU) Bengals in the first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament. The Bengals' first-half success gave them a lead that the Lumberjacks couldn't recover from, as ISU walked away with a 64-62 victory in Boise, Idaho.
NAU started the game perfect from the field and scored its first 9 points on 4-4 shooting. The Bengals allowed NAU to take an 11-2 lead within the first four minutes. However, the Bengals' determination brought them back into the game with a 15-4 run of their own to go up 17-15 and get their first lead of the game.
The game then turned into a dog fight. Within the next seven minutes of the game, neither team had a two-possession lead.
The Bengals started to catch heat though. With three minutes left in the first half, the Bengals took a 44-29 lead over the Lumberjacks after a 15-0 run where they shot a flawless 5-5 from the field.
Unhappy with the results of the first half, NAU decided to exit the locker room strong. The Lumberjacks chopped away at ISU’s lead within the first five minutes of the second half. A 13-2 run put the Lumberjacks within four points of the Bengals.
Junior forward Bernie Andre, who did not score in the first half, made all three of his shots and put 8 points on the board for NAU. Andre helped close the gap, but NAU still trailed 46-42.
A 3-pointer by Andre tied the game 50-50. Then, the Bengals went on another run to regain the momentum. Idaho State scored seven points in just one minute while the Lumberjacks couldn’t get any shots to fall.
Toward the end of the game, both teams were held to a stalemate. NAU scored two points while the Bengals could not find a bucket. The Bengals held a 62-61 lead until two free throws by ISU sophomore guard Austin Smellie put them up 64-61.
The Lumberjacks raced down the floor where sophomore guard Cameron Shelton was fouled and sent to the free-throw line. He made his first and tried to bounce his second off the rim to give NAU a chance to score again. It was unsuccessful as the Bengals walked away with the 64-62 victory.
NAU finished the game with three players who scored double digits. Senior forward DeBisschop ended with 17 points, Shelton with 13 points and Andre, who scored all his points in the second half, with 16 points.
The Bengals move on to face the No. 3 seed University of Montana Thursday in the second round of the Big Sky Conference. The Lumberjacks will head home as their season comes to an end.
NAU finished its season with a 16-14 overall record and a 10-10 conference record. The Lumberjacks will part ways with two of their seniors — DeBisschop and senior forward Chirs Bowling.