It wasn’t always pretty, but Idaho men’s basketball took care of business in a statement game on Saturday night, winning 63-54.
“It was great to get a nice, hard-fought win tonight,” head coach Don Verlin said in a news release. “I thought our guys showed a lot of heart and determination to get a win against a good Sam Houston State team.”
Senior guard Victor Sanders led the Vandals on the stat sheet with 22 points with almost half coming off of free throws, but he was relatively quiet away from the free throw line in the first half. Idaho was instead paced by strong play from senior guard Perrion Callandret, who had six points and four rebounds in the first half alone. The Vandals led by as many as 13 in the first half, but Idaho couldn’t seem to pull away from the Bearkats and went into locker room at halftime only up by three.
“We played well for the first 10 minutes, no question about it,” Verlin said. “I thought we were excellent defensively and we got out to a great start. The ball was moving and we took care of our ball in that 10 minutes.”
Sam Houston State turned a strong start in the second half into their first lead of the game with a little more than 16 minutes left in the final frame. However, the Vandals would not be denied. Sanders and junior power forward Nate Sherwood combined for 23 points and ten rebounds in the second half to keep pace with Sam Houston State. The Vandals went on a 19-3 run midway through the second half to get a 10-point lead that they would not relinquish. Sanders scored nine straight points, mostly off of free throws, while the defense held strong to ice the game.
Sanders, Callandret, and Sherwood all finished in double figures while senior forward Brayon Blake led the team in rebounds with nine despite playing only 19 minutes. Idaho won the game at the free throw line, converting 25 of 27 free throws. On the other side, the Bearkats made only five out of nine free throws. Idaho outrebounded Sam Houston State 35-25 but turned the ball over 20 times to the Bearkats’ 16.
Up next, the Vandals will travel north for the Great Alaska Shootout to face Santa Clara University 6:30 p.m. Nov. 22 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Jonah Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonahpbaker