Despite a frenzied second-half comeback, the Idaho men’s basketball team fell 69-62 to Eastern Washington Friday at the Cowan Spectrum, in both team’s first Big Sky Conference game of the season.
“I thought Eastern came in her with a chip on their shoulder and I thought they played better than us,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said in a news release. “They were the more aggressive team for 30 minutes.”
Following the game, Verlin said senior guard Perrion Callandret is most likely done for the season because of a knee injury from the second game of the season.
Callandret was the Vandals (5-7, 1-0) second-leading scorer.
Junior guard Victor Sanders, Idaho’s leading scorer, has shouldered the scoring responsibility, with a game-high 32 points against the Eagles (9-5, 1-0). 27 points came in the second half and Idaho’s last 18 points came from Sanders.
Sanders earned four assists and five steals.
“I don’t think we came out as ready as we needed to,” Sanders said.
Just over 1,000 people attended.
“These games over break are always tough,” Verlin said. “No band. Very few cheerleaders. But that’s no excuse. You know, we had three great days of practice, so I thought we were going to play really well.”
After a dominant first half, Eastern Washington led 39-25.
The Vandals fought back in the second, cutting the deficit to five with two minutes left.
Free throws from Eastern Washington and missed opportunities by the Vandals kept Idaho behind.
Junior forward Brayon Blake earned 12 boards and six points.
Idaho shot 30.5 percent from inside and 28.6 percent from outside. The Eagles earned 50 percent of their shots from the floor and from beyond the arc.
The Vandals forced 21 turnovers and took 15 steals.
Eagles forward Jacob Wiley led Eastern Washington with 23 points with 9-of-13 shooting. Forward Felix Von Hofe went 6-of-11 from 3-point range for 22 points.
“It’s a tough defeat for us, it’s a home conference game,” Verlin said. “What we have to do is stay the course, commit to the process, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Tess Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos