Idaho brought plenty of energy and fight against Northern Arizona, and the outcome was rarely in doubt.
The Vandals took care of business against NAU 83-68 to sweep the home stand. Junior guards Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce combined for 54 of Idaho’s points on 13-25 shooting from 3-point range. As a team, the Vandals nearly shot 50 percent overall.
“We got stops and locked them down and coach was calling some good plays,” said Pierce. “Allison [Kirby] was giving us great passes all night and we did a good job of knocking those open looks down.”
Idaho (8-10, BSC 4-3) started the game on a 10-0 run to take the lead and never relinquished it. The Vandals were especially stingy on defense early on, and held the Lumberjacks (4-14, BSC 1-6) scoreless for the first six minutes of the game.
Northern Arizona managed to pull within one point with three minutes left in the second quarter, but Idaho finished the half on a 12-0 run on four straight threes and did not look back. Idaho clamped down in the second half and led by double digits throughout the fourth quarter.
“I loved our energy and effort today,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said. “We kinda lost their good shooters in the second quarter but held tough the rest of the night. We had excellent offensive flow and managed to get our shooters open all night.”
Ferenz had an especially memorable outing.
The guard came into the night averaging 22.2 points per game, which was good for ninth in the nation. She moved into eighth place all time for scoring in Idaho’s record books with a 33-point performance on 11-18 shooting. She also finished one rebound short of a double-double, only two days after she recorded her first of the season. Ferenz’s performance came almost exactly one year after she set a career and program high for points, also against NAU.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it, but obviously hoping to get 41 again,” Ferenz said. “It feels really good to get that recognition in the record books, but more importantly this game will give us some momentum as we go into the next road trip.”
Pierce and senior post Geri McCorkell provided plenty of extra support, adding 21 and 13 points respectively. McCorkell also finished with 10 rebounds for her second double-double in a row.
NAU is now 0-8 on the road this season, and has lost four in a row.
“We had a pretty good offensive night, but there’s just not a lot you can do when a team hits 15 threes,” NAU head coach Loree Payne said. “We made it tough for them but Ferenz kept hitting those tough shots.”
Idaho is now 3-2 in the new year and 4-3 in conference play.
“We needed to win these two at home with how competitive this league is,” Newlee said. “We’re coming up on our toughest travel trip of the year and I’m happy with the momentum we have going into that stretch.”
The Vandals will travel to take on conference leaders Northern Colorado Jan. 25.
Jonah Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonahpbaker