(Photo courtesy of Spencer Farrin)
Idaho’s final season in the Western Athletic Conference before bolting for the Big Sky hasn’t quite been the victory lap as expected. Despite the conference being a shell of its former self in terms of quality, Idaho is still finding late game execution hard to find.
Thursday night the Vandals lost to Missouri-Kansas City, giving up a five-point lead late. On Saturday night it was Chicago State hitting a lay-up with three seconds left in the game to break a 55-55 gridlock that broke the hearts of the guys wearing white inside the Cowan Spectrum.
The buzzer sounded with the ball heading out of bounds off of Mike Scott’s hands, set up at the 3-point lane for a game-winning attempt. He couldn’t corral the pass from Glen Dean, who had streaked down the court in the final seconds to get him the ball.
“I was the one who rushed to hurry up and get the shot off, just slipped out of my hand,” Scott said. “Glen threw it pretty hard, that’s no excuse for me not to catch it. I was trying to hurry up and get it up.”
Trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half, Idaho chipped away at the lead and eventually tied it at 55 with a 7-0 run with 1:05 left in the game. Chicago State held it for the next minute and two seconds before the Vandals touched the ball next.
Free throw shooting will be lamented, again, following Idaho’s third consecutive home loss. The last three games have been dropped by a combined nine points and all three went down to the final minutes with Idaho having an opportunity to win.
Idaho won’t win many close games shooting 10-22 from the charity stripe, as it did on Saturday. Idaho went 16-24 on Thursday against UMKC and 18-33 last Saturday against Montana.
“I wish I could tell you the reason we’re missing free throws. Maybe we need to not shoot any at all,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said.
Two losses to teams projected to finish below the Vandals in the new-look WAC may have the team reeling for confidence, but Mike Scott says that was addressed in a players only meeting held after Saturday night’s loss.
“It’s just a matter of time, guys need to buy in, some people still think they’ll go their own way” he said. “It’s more of everybody needing to follow, we know who our leaders are, and we need to follow and that goes back to us need to buy in.”
Ty Egbert ejected
Making his first start of his career freshman center Ty Egbert getting ejected for throwing a punch, the officials ruled in the first half. After going to the replay video for about five minutes, Egbert was charged with a flagrant 2 after a defensive play under the basket. Verlin came into the post-game interview still unsure if the call was correct or not.
“Tt better be. If it’s not, (the WAC is) going to get the tape. They were convinced he threw a punch. That’s what (Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy) told me, that’s what (the head official) told me,” Verlin said. “If he did that’s not good for Ty Egbert, that’s not how we play. He will be penalized severely if he did that. Freshman making a freshman mistake, not a mistake that will be taken lightly.”
Ty Egbert will miss the next game.