The NAU women’s basketball team rode a dominant first half to victory Saturday afternoon against the Weber State University (WSU) Wildcats. Despite the opening minutes being a tightly contested affair, NAU pulled away late in the first quarter and never looked back. The Lumberjacks dominated on the offensive glass and the paint, scoring 24 second-chance points.

NAU entered Saturday's game hoping to regain momentum, as it entered the final month of Big Sky play. The Lumberjacks looked to get back on track after a three-point loss against Idaho State University Thursday, which ended the Lumberjacks three-game win streak. The Wildcats tried to claw their way out of the big sky cellar, sitting four games behind ninth place.

The Lumberjacks took advantage of their size, shooting eight shots inside the paint, converting on three, in the opening six minutes. Weber state managed to keep it close, with the Lumberjacks holding a one-point lead with four minutes left in the opening quarter. NAU would end the quarter on a 12-2 run, with junior forward Khiarica Rasheed scoring two 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. WSU struggled to find a rhythm offensively, as NAU kept the pressure on the Wildcats whenever they had the ball.

“I think our press defense really turned up our offense,” head coach Loree Payne said. “We were causing them to have trouble executing, so I think that really helped our transition offense.”

The second quarter would follow the same script, with the teams trading blows until WSU called a timeout midway through the quarter. The Lumberjacks would seize momentum in a team effort to take control of the game and turn a 13 point lead to 21, ending the half 45-24. Sophomore guard Regan Schenck was constantly involved in plays throughout the game.

“We don’t want to let up, and so when I come off the bench my goal is to keep us going and keep the intensity high,” Schenck said.

The Lumberjacks wouldn’t look back, continuing their dominance in the second half. While NAU wouldn’t have any major runs, it stretched the lead to end the third quarter 65-41. In the final quarter of play, the story was more of the same with both teams going blow for blow. The Lumberjacks would leave with a dominant 92-61 victory.

The Lumberjacks take a road trip to the University of Northern Colorado Thursday and Southern Utah University (SUU) Feb. 15. The Lumberjacks are now in second place in the Big Sky Conference, tied with SUU, as they enter the home stretch of their season.

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