Idaho men’s basketball finished exhibition play with a dominate 84-59 win over the Lewis-Clark State College Warriors at the Memorial Gym Sunday Night.
Idaho finished exhibition play with a 25-point victory over LCSC to gain momentum into the season opener on Friday.
Idaho started the game fast and precise, with quick offense and a disruptive defense. It was a three- point barrage for Idaho with senior small forward Jordan Scott adding two three pointers to start the game.
An early 8-3 run, and 6-0 run brought the Vandals to a 25-12 lead midway through the first half. LCSC was able to cut into the lead to bring it to a six-point ball game.
LCSC brought the fight to the Vandals in the first half going on a 9-2 run to cut the Vandal lead late in the first half. A game changing stopped dunk attempt by senior forward Brayon Blake gave the Vandals the needed momentum to pull away from LCSC to gain a 43-32 lead by halftime.
The emotion and energy was just part of the job, Blake said.
“My job on the team is to be the energy guy, so I have to make sure everyone stays together,” Blake said. “Even when (energy) goes down, we have to bring it up.”
The three-point shooting was dominant throughout the first half for the vandals with Idaho shooting 7-13 in the half on 53.8% shooting. Idaho was dominant on the defense side too, holding the Warriors to only shooting a 27.3 three-point percentage.
Baskets were available often due to a strong passing game said Idaho head coach Don Verlin.
“I thought we passed the ball very well, shared the ball well, and in spurts we played pretty hard,” Verlin said.
It was all Vandals in the second half. Idaho held a 53-43 ten-point lead early in the second half. The Vandals pulled away on an 18-4 run to give them a 71-47 lead with 7:30 left in the ball game. By the five-minute mark it was time for the Vandal freshmen to showcase the future of the team. Freshmen guard Geno West and freshman forward Jared Rodriguez led the Vandals at the end of the game to finish a dominant game for the Vandals with an 84-59 score.
Idaho shot 51.6% from the field, and held LCSC to only shooting 36.8%. for the game.
Strong play from the bench helped the Vandal victory outscoring the Warriors’ bench 42-21, with Blake leading the way with 21 points on 9-11 shooting, and grabbing six rebounds in the process.
Senior forward Arkadiy Mkrtychyan also helped the Vandals on the offensive side with 17 points on 7-9 shooting and seven rebounds as well.
“The big part was our guards found us in the post for us to create good shots, and were able to work on that in practice every day,” Mkrtychyan said.
Coach Verlin gave nothing but praise to the leading front court seniors on the night.
“I thought they were really aggressive right from the start, I thought Ark did a good job rebounding the ball,” Verlin said. “BJ was very aggressive right from the minute he came in and I thought we had an advantage inside, with our guys doing a good job giving them the ball.”
LCSC only held the lead for 23 seconds of the game, showing the dominating play the Vandals brought to the floor. Doubling LCSC’s rebounding total, the Vandals won the rebounding battle 48-23 on the night.
Looking forward to the season opener on Friday, Blake and company are prepared for the fight ahead.
“We have to make a statement,” Blake said. “We know what we got, we got a bigger picture ahead.”
The Idaho Vandals will travel to Reno to play the defending Mountain West champions Nevada Wolfpack on 7 p.m. Friday in Reno, Nevada.
Chris Deremer can be reached at email@example.com