Portland State’s Braxton Tucker and Dashaun Wiggins combined for 38 points and handed Idaho its third-straight loss, 85-73, Saturday night in Portland.
“We gotta do a better job guarding people,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “They get four guys in double figures, and Braxton Tucker and Winston obviously played very well.”
With the loss, Idaho has yet to win a game outside of the Palouse this season. The Vandals only road win came against Washington State back on Dec. 3 in Pullman, and is now 1-7 in games away from home.
With a 6-2 home record, the Vandals (7-9, 2-3 Big Sky) will be back in Moscow next week with games against North Dakota (5-11, 1-4 Big Sky) and Northern Colorado (9-7, 4-1 Big Sky).
“Vandal fans, this team needs ya,” Verlin said of his team returning home next week. “I really believe this team is going to play at the top of this conference when we get some details worked out. The kids are playing hard, they’re good kids, they stand for the right stuff.”
The Vandals looked good early as they jumped out to an early five-point lead, but Portland State answered with a 6-0 run to take the lead by one, eight minutes into the first half.
Idaho regained the lead a couple minutes later, but the Vikings went on a 21-8 run to take the lead 35-24 with just over two minutes left in the first half. The Vandals would not hold a lead for the rest of the game.
For the second-straight game the Vandals were in the teens in turnovers. After 17 turnovers against Sacramento State, Idaho turned over the ball 14 times against Portland State.
“We just couldn’t make the plays and get the stops when we needed to,” Verlin said. “And we were sloppy again with the ball.”
Verlin said the difference in the game was the Vandals inability to play interior defense. Portland State had four players score in double figures — two of which played in the post.
Portland State’s Tiegbe Bamba finished with 12 points and four rebounds, and to go along with his 19 points, Tucker added seven rebounds to his stat line.
“They really hurt us tonight with our interior defense,” Verlin said. “Our bigs couldn’t guard those guys off the bounce … That was really the difference in the basketball game tonight.”
Senior point guard Mike Scott led the Vandals with 15 points and had 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals to go with it.
Verlin said he knew this was going to be a tough road trip and is looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd next week.
“We’ve lost three in a row now, that’s tough,” he said. “Two of those three — felt like we could have won … What we gotta do is bounce back. My teams have always gotten better at this time of year, and that is what this team has got to do.”
Korbin McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org