Although the Vandals were cut short in the Big Sky tournament, the post-season did not end there. Idaho was selected for the CollegeInsider.com tournament where the team took on Stephen F. Austin and claimed the first-round win 73-50 in Moscow.
Idaho head coach Don Verlin said he was happy with the way his team held strong on defense in getting the win.
“Obviously I’m very pleased with our effort tonight,” Verlin said. “I thought our guys came out right from the get-go and established how we were going to play. I thought we were excellent defensively tonight and I was really proud of the way we took care of our ball, especially in the second half. That’s what Stephen F. Austin likes to do, they try to get you to turn it over, but I thought once we settled in we did a great job of taking care of our basketball. I’m proud of our guys, I thought we gave one heck of an effort tonight.”
Sophomore power forward Nate Sherwood kicked off the scoring for Idaho less than a minute into the game to jumpstart a 7-0 Idaho run. The opponents kept it a close game for the majority of the opening half but Idaho expanded the score gap to as many as 14 points before the half. SFA reigned it back in but the Vandals still headed into the break with a 37-30 advantage.
The Sherwood brothers lead the way on offense at the conclusion of the opening 20 minutes with eight points apiece.
The beginning of the second half mirrored that of the first. Although Idaho held the lead, SFA kept the score within reach. Until the final 10 minutes of play. The Vandals pushed ahead to expand the score out to as many as 23 points at the conclusion of the game.
Offense started the game but defense sealed the win for the Vandals. In the last 13 minutes of play Idaho held SFA to just eight points. The opponents finished the game with a total of 18 turnovers, seven of which were forced by the defense to give Idaho the large advantage.
Junior guard Chad Sherwood topped out for the Idaho offense with 17 points. Both Nate Sherwood and junior guard Victor Sanders rounded out the top scorers with 10 points each.
Sanders had a slower night than normal, but Verlin said Sanders played a key role in grabbing the win.
“What I would tell you is, if he (Victor Sanders) played like he did tonight we’ll win a lot of games,” Verlin said. “I thought he did a lot of really good things. He didn’t shoot it quite as well, but I thought he adjusted to how they were guarding him. I thought he made a number of the right plays. Getting Chad open, passing it into the post, I thought he did a good job of facilitating our offense and an excellent job on defense.”
Meredith Spelbring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org