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POCATELLO, Idaho- Idaho State men's basketball lost to Northern Arizona in front of a season-best crowd of 2,186 fans in Holt Arena on Saturday night. NAU improved to 6-12 overall and 3-5 in conference competitions, while ISU dropped to 4-13 overall and 3-5 in conference.
Junior guard Tomas Sanchez led ISU scorers with 12 points, while senior guard Melvin Morgan and junior forward Andre Hatchett contributed 11 points each. Sophomore Chris Hansen led the Bengals with six rebounds and Hatchett had five.
"That was a tough one," Idaho State coach Bill Evans said. "We needed to win that game. You have to give Northern Arizona credit. They played better than we did and they deserved to win. We shoot 20 percent from the arc and 40 percent from the floor. I think we lost their 11 and 12 too much and they made us pay."
Northern Arizona connected on eight-of-18 three-point shots, while ISU was three-of-14. Northern Arizona shot 41.3 percent from the field, while ISU shot 40.8 percent.
Idaho State was 12-for-20 from the free throw line and NAU finished 14-for-19.
"We took better shots tonight then we took the other night," Evans said. "We only took one shot that I thought was a bad shot tonight. It was one of those nights and one of many nights in my career. Sometimes you make them and sometimes you don't. I am certainly disappointed but I will be disappointed again and I will be happy again."
Northern Arizona guards Gabe Rogers and DeWayne Russell scored 41 of NAU's 60 points.
NAU opened the game with a flurry of 3-pointers from Russell and Rogers to take a 12-5 lead with 15:24 left in the first half.
Idaho State slowly chipped away at the Lumberjack lead and took its first lead of the game at 23-22 on a Morgan jumper with 3:11 to play in the half. ISU led by as many as three points in the final minutes of the first half at 28-25 after two free throws by Hatchett. NAU then scored five of the next seven points to go into halftime tied at 30.
Northern Arizona led the entire second half but ISU did tie the game on three different occasions with the last time coming at 45-45 with 7:21 remaining following a Hansen 3-pointer.
Idaho State got no closer than one point at 52-51` off a Hatchett basket with 2:15 left in the game. NAU then scored six points to seal the win.
Idaho State plays five of its next six games on the road starting Thursday, January 24 at Montana. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and the game can be heard live on 102.5 KMGI and 930 KSEI. The next home game for the Bengals is February 7 vs. Southern Utah in Holt Arena.