FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In complete contrast to Thursday's game, the Northern Arizona women's basketball team and Idaho engaged in an old-fashioned shootout Saturday night – an explosion that ended in the Vandals' favor, 91-80. NAU (6-12 overall, 2-5 Big Sky) shot 46.3 percent from the field, but could not keep up with Idaho's deadly shooting from deep as the Vandals hit 18 three-pointers.
"They shot the three very well and we knew coming in that they were going to do that," said interim head coach Robyne Bostick. "They started to step back off the line by a few feet and we weren't able to close out tightly enough to contest all of their shots. We gave (Mikayla) Ferenz a couple of wide open looks and when a player is feeling it like she was, we can't afford that."
Ferenz accounted for nearly half of NAU's season-high points allowed and knocked down nine of Idaho's 18 threes. She shot 9-for-11 from three, and 15-for17 overall, to finish with a Skydome record-tying 41 points. As a team, the Vandals shot 58.1 percent from behind the arc and 53.6 percent for the game.
Meanwhile, NAU bounced back from an overall poor shooting performance two nights ago by carrying its momentum from the fourth quarter against Eastern Washington. The Lumberjacks came out gunning by converting on 11 of their first 17 shots and holding a 26-18 lead after the opening quarter. A series of three consecutive triples by freshman Raina Perez and seniors Taylor Leyva and Rene Coggins helped NAU pushed its lead out to 23-14 eight minutes into the game.
Senior Catelyn Preston hit NAU's fourth three of the game to give the Lumberjacks their largest lead, 31-20, with 7:28 left in the first half. Unfortunately, the 'Jacks would miss their final nine attempts from behind the arc the rest of the night as their lead slowly vanished. The Lumberjacks did manage to still cling on to a 43-40 lead heading into halftime in large part due to sophomore Kaleigh Paplow's 10 first half points on a perfect 5-for-5 showing.
After Perez scored NAU's final five points of the third quarter, the two squads entered the final period deadlocked at 60-all. Two minutes in, Idaho held the slim 65-64 lead before going on an 8-0 run that shifted the momentum of the game temporarily. The Vandals led by as much as 10 before senior Brittani Lusain, who finished with a team-high 17 points, willed the Lumberjacks back into the game.
Lusain scored eight points in just over 70 seconds to bring NAU within three at 83-80 with 1:51 left on the clock. However, Idaho would close with the game's final eight points to cap a fourth quarter in which it made six of its eight three-point attempts. The 31 fourth quarter Vandal points were the most surrendered by the Lumberjacks in any quarter this season.
Lusain led five Lumberjacks in double-figure points, marking the second time this season in which NAU had as many in a game. Redshirt junior Olivia Lucero scored 14 while Paplow wound up with 13. Senior Rene Coggins and freshman Raina Perez had 12 and 10 respectively.
Despite reaching the 80-point mark for the first time since Dec. 3, NAU was done in by Idaho's long distance prowess. The Vandals made at least four threes in every quarter to overcome a crushing 42-18 points in the paint advantage by the 'Jacks. NAU also outrebounded Idaho, 34-31, and committed just 12 turnovers to Idaho's 15. However, NAU had just 11 assists for its third-lowest total of the season.
The Lumberjacks head back on the road to face the top two teams in the conference starting with the Big Sky's last unbeaten team, Northern Colorado, on Thursday. NAU will then travel to North Dakota on Saturday. The two games will mark the second season meetings as NAU fell to both teams by a combined margin of five points at home two weeks ago.