It could have been Don Verlin’s darkest hour.
Instead, a potentially disastrous loss was averted with 0.5 seconds left in a second overtime when freshman Perrion Callandret slashed to the basket and put Idaho ahead 86-85 with the lay in.
The win at Texas Pan-American was as unlikely as it was exhilarating. Idaho needed a string of things going its way to pull the game out with under 8 seconds, and just that happened.
Trailing 85-83, Idaho came out of the timeout with eight seconds left in 2OT thinking win. Connor Hill bombed a 3-point shot from NBA range that clanked off, only to be scooped up by Paulin Mpawe. Fouled, Mpawe had a chance to tie it up. He split the pair, but the second one was quickly grabbed by Sekou Wiggs. Timeout Idaho. The chance to win – again.
The moment proved not to be too big for the true freshman Callandret, who has had a rough beginning to his season. The highly touted freshman was thought to be an immediate contributor, dynamic scorer and a regular member of the rotation. That has turned out not to be the case, and might not have been on the floor had it not been for three Vandals fouling out by that point.
It’s a moment like that which just might get Callandret going.
And, it’s a moment Idaho desperately needed. UT-Pan American was on an eight game losing streak heading into its home-conference opener against Idaho. For the Vandals to fall to 0-3 in conference while letting UTPA snap its losing streak would be close to a low-point in Verlin’s entire tenure at Idaho.
Instead, Idaho finally found a way to pull out a win in the closing seconds in a tight game, something it hadn’t been able to do in two conference games prior.
A trip to Las Cruces, N.M. to face WAC-favorites New Mexico State looms. Probably unlikely, but Idaho could help save its season with a massive upset on Saturday against the Aggies.
– Callandret only played six minutes on the night, coming off the bench in part because Stephen Madison had fouled out
– Stephen Madison, Joe Kammerer and Bira Seck all fouled out
– Freshman Sekou Wiggs continues to be big for Idaho, scoring 12 but going 10-13 from the free throw line
– Connor Hill had a huge night, scoring 28 points on 10-18 shooting, 7-15 from beyond-the-arc.