FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona (8-12, 6-4 Big Sky) kept its composure as it rallied back in the second half to sink Idaho State 67-65 at the Walkup Skydome. Freshman guard Kris Yanku made the game-winning shot with three seconds left on the clock to lift NAU to a victory.
"The guys battled and learned from the other night," said head coach Jack Murphy. "The same thing that happened today, happened at Montana State. I gave the same person (Kris Yanku) the ball and he made a bad play, but today he makes the game-winning play. So for a freshman to learn from that over the course of a few weeks is impressive."
The first half saw both teams shoot over 40 percent from the floor and connect on four three-pointers apiece, but it was Idaho State who held the 37-30 advantage heading into halftime.
Junior guard Aaseem Dixon hit a pair of three-pointers in the first half to pace the NAU offense, while junior center Len Springs registered three blocked shots and four rebounds to lead NAU's defensive efforts.
In the second half it was all Quinton Upshur. The junior guard was all over the court, as he was scoring baskets and collecting steals to help NAU fight back. Upshur found Dixon for the long range three-pointer that gave NAU its first lead of the game at the 12:57 mark in the second half.
NAU went on a 13-6 run to lead the Bengals 65-63 with 1:26 remaining in the game.
The Bengals (7-11, 4-5 Big Sky) were able to tie the game at 65-All, but NAU did not give up. The Lumberjacks controlled the ball and positioned themselves for the last shot of the game. Yanku floated the ball in the basket and Idaho State had three seconds left on the clock for a desperation shot. The shot came up short and NAU completed the come from behind victory.
"This is a big win for us today," said Upshur. "The conference standings are pretty tight, and we just needed to get back on the winning side of things."
Upshur scored a team-high 20 points, 14 points coming in the second half. Springs finished with a career-high eight points to go along with 11 rebounds. Dixon added 18 points and three assists. NAU shot 44.4 percent from the field and 68.8 percent from the free throw line.
Three Idaho State players scored in double figures led by Chris Hansen who had 15 points and six rebounds. Andre Hatched scored 14 points and Tomas Sanchez netted 11. The Bengals shot 45.3 percent from the field and 78.6 percent from the charity stripe.
NAU returns to the court on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 8:05 p.m. when it plays at Sacramento State. The Lumberjacks return home on Saturday, Feb. 8 to host Southern Utah at 6:30 p.m.
Notes: Double digit scoring games: Quinton Upshur (19), Aaseem Dixon (13)…Len Springs registered three blocked shots to improve his season total to 40.