It was a tail of two halves Thursday night in the Cowan Spectrum. The Vandals held an early 15-point lead, but saw that disappear as North Dakota opened the second half with a 20-5 run to take a 12-point lead with 10:49 left in the game.
North Dakota’s Terrel de Rouen scored 15 points in the second half and guided his team to a 71-63-comeback win over the Vandals.
“We just didn’t play good at all in that second half,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “Let a seven point lead at halftime get away from us, then it was anybody’s game after that. I thought they dominated us in the second half.”
After a poor shooting performance in the first half, North Dakota hit 63.6 percent of its shots in the second half.
Idaho struggled from the free-throw line throughout the game, as the team converted only 15-of-28 attempts.
“It’s a pretty simple game,” Verlin said. “Our job is to add more energy and enthusiasm in how we play … We’re not going to win a lot of basketball games given those percentages in the second half.”
With the loss, Idaho falls to 2-4 in Big Sky competition and is now on a four-game losing streak. The team will attempt to put an end to that streak 7 p.m. Saturday, against Northern Colorado in Cowan Spectrum.
Idaho is now tied with North Dakota and Southern Utah for the eighth and last seed in the Big Sky Tournament.
“They’re all important right now,” Verlin said of conference games. “This was a big one tonight … I didn’t think our effort was good enough tonight to beat North Dakota.”
While North Dakota had four players in double figures, Idaho only had two. Senior guard Connor Hill finished with a team high 14 points, while freshman forward Arkadiy Mkrtychyan finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore guard Sekou Wiggs said the team needs to be able to respond when adversity hits them.
“I think it’s just a matter of focus,” he said. “We just gotta be able to stand in there and fight through adversity.”
Verlin said he was disappointed with all aspects of Thursday’s game.
“As coaches we got to coach better, players got to play better,” he said. “We got to find a way to put a better product on the floor at Idaho.”
Korbin McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org