In the final 10 seconds of Idaho’s game against Sacramento State Thursday night, Connor Hill had two chances to either win or tie the game.
Down by one point with nine seconds left, the senior shooting guard hoisted up a long-range 3-point attempt that hit the front of the rim.
“That was a play for Connor,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “We knew they were going to come out in the zone there. He just made the cut a little too wide, but he had a wide-open look — heck he had hardly missed one all night.”
After Sacramento State’s Cody Demps made two free throws, Hill was forced to hurl up a deep, last-second 30-foot 3-pointer, which also fell short.
Sacramento State won 79-76, and improved to 4-1 in the Big Sky Conference. With the loss, Idaho’s record is now 7-8 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
The Vandals hope to rebound Saturday when they travel to Portland to take on the Portland State Vikings (8-7, 2-3).
“What we gotta do is go get ready for a good Portland State team,” Verlin said. “This is a basketball game we should have won … we just didn’t get the job done tonight.”
After Sacramento State started the game on a 6-0 run, the Vandals, led by Hill’s 15 first-half points, took control. Idaho led by as much as 11 points and took an eight-point lead into halftime.
As both teams headed into the locker room, however, Verlin was called for a technical foul.
Verlin said he just tried to apologize to the referee for giving him such a hard time in the first half.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “Not the difference of the game, but that’s just poor officiating … He let his emotions get the best of him … The coaches in the Big Sky told me the officiating in the Big Sky was really inconsistent, and boy is it ever.”
With the technical foul, Sacramento State received two free throws at the start of the second half.
The Hornets went on a 14-7 run to start the second half and battled back to get the score to within one point, 48-47, and would later tie the game at 70-70 with just over four minutes left in the game.
Sacramento State was led by Mikh McKinney. The senior guard scored 27 points in the second half and finished the game with 32 points.
“He just kicked our tail,” Verlin said of McKinney. “We just didn’t a good job guarding him with the ball … we’ve got to get better.”
Sophomore guard Sekou Wiggs led the Vandals with 22 points. Right behind him was Hill, who finished with 20 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc.
The Vandals turned the ball over 17 times. Verlin said that was the difference in the game.
“We turned the ball over too much — didn’t make the plays when we needed to,” he said. “The seniors didn’t lead very well and that’ll get you beat on the road … We gift wrapped that one for them tonight. We outplayed them most of the game there and just made way, way too many mistakes.”
Korbin McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org