The Idaho men’s basketball team picked up its fourth straight victory Thursday night with a 88-76 win over Northern Colorado.
The Vandals now sit tied for third with Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Conference.
Idaho (13-10 overall, 8-4 Big Sky) held the lead for 39 minutes and 30 seconds. The Vandals shot over 53 percent from the field and hit 13 3-pointers, leading to a 28-point lead midway through the second half.
The Bears (8-15 overall, 4-8 Big Sky) were unable to answer with their own three-pointers, shooting 29 percent, compared to Idaho’s 48 percent.
“We played really good basketball for 30 minutes tonight,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said. “I thought our defense was excellent early. They’re a 3-point shooting team, they were 3-of-15 in the half.”
Idaho junior guard Victor Sanders finished the night with 25 points. Sanders is No. 14 in the nation in scoring, averaging 31 points in the last four games.
The Vandals hit five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the matchup and junior post Brayon Blake would throw down an alley-oop from freshman guard Trevon Allen, resulting in an early 10-point lead. Northern Colorado cut the lead to five, 25-20, on a 7-0 run a few minutes later in the half, but Idaho junior guard Chad Sherwood re-sparked the Vandals offense with a deep three to end the drought.
Idaho took a 14-point lead going into the half. Four players hovered around double figures.
Northern Colorado guards Chaz Glotta and DJ Miles finished the half with 10 and 11 points, respectively. Northern Colorado outscored Idaho in the paint 18-12 in the first half.
Junior forward Jordan Scott set the tone for the second half with one of three 3-pointers, leading to eight straight baskets for the Vandals, pushing their lead over 20.
A technical foul from Sanders with just over seven minutes left ignited Northern Colorado’s spark. Outstanding 3-point shooting from Miles, left handed finishes from Glotta and contested makes by guard Jordan Davis began to cut into the large Idaho lead.
Northern Colorado successfully pressed the Vandals, resulting in several turnovers and empty possessions. The Bears cut the game to an eight-point lead with two minutes remaining.
“You look at the numbers after the game, shooting), scoring 88 points, 16 assists and nine turnovers, that’s a pretty good offensive night for this basketball team.” Verlin said.
Four Vandals reached double figures. In addition to Sanders’ 25, junior forward Nate Sherwood netted 13, Blake finished with 16 and Scott ended with 11.
For the Bears, Miles scored a game-high 30 points, Glotta finished with 17 and Davis scored 21.
“We have to clean some things up for North Dakota, we know that,” Verlin said. “We’re going to need 40 (minutes) on Saturday, we know that. The guys will be ready, the coaches will be ready, it should be a heck of a game.”
The Vandals look to continue the winning streak on this away-stretch with a 2 p.m. battle against North Dakota in Grand Forks on Saturday.
Colton Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org