The Vandals came out on the wrong end of another nail-biter on Saturday night.
Two days after winning a one point game, Idaho lost to Portland State by a score of 73-72.
The game featured 15 lead changes, and neither team could muster a lead larger than five points.
“The teams slugged it out for 40 straight minutes and it really could have gone either way,” Portland State head coach Barret Peery said. “You saw two teams that were not going to go away but thankfully our defense got enough stops.”
Each team got strong performances from their standout players.
Senior guard Victor Sanders poured in 28 points for the Vandals (10-6, BSC 2-2) on 10-18 shooting. He needed only seven points to pass Connor Hill for fifth in career points coming into the night.
Senior forward Brayon Blake dominated the boards for the Vandals, pulling down 13 rebounds and 10 in the second half alone. The Vandals also got plenty of production from senior guard Chad Sherwood, who added 15 points on 5-9 shooting from 3-point range.
“Our guys did a great job of being unselfish and springing guys for good shots,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said. “Chad Sherwood did a great job shooting supremely well off the bench for us and Vic Sanders really made a difference. We were able to move the ball and that resulted in a lot of wide open shots at the basket or open threes.”
Portland State (11-5, BSC 1-2) guard Vonte Carter gave the Vandals fits all night. He finished with 30 points, including 6-8 shooting from beyond the arc.
Senior forward Brandon Hollins contributed 11 points for the Vikings and led the team with eight rebounds.
The game came down to the last possession, but Portland State held one important advantage all night.
The Vikings finished with eight more free throw attempts than Idaho. Although they only shot 50 percent at the line, the disparity was enough to put the Vandals at a disadvantage. Sanders was the only Vandal to even make a trip to the free throw line, while five different Vikings took free throws.
“Tonight was a one possession game, but it wasn’t just the last play,” Verlin said. “You can’t foul 3-point shooters, and you can’t foul good jump shooters. We can’t give a good team baskets.”
Idaho had plenty of chances as the game wound down.
Sanders made two free throws at the near the three minute mark to make the score 72-67 in favor of the Vandals, but a series of rough possessions doomed Idaho. Senior guard Perrion Callandret turned the ball over twice and had a dunk blocked within the final three minutes as Portland State slowly chipped away at Idaho’s lead. The Vikings were able to hold Idaho scoreless for the rest of the game, and a last second tip-in by freshman guard Holland Woods sealed the win for Portland State.
“They took care of the little details at the end of the game,” Idaho senior forward Arkadiy Mkrtychyan said. “We were able to deal with their press early on, but they boxed out and took care of the ball late and that made a big difference.”
The Vandals will travel west to take on Eastern Washington at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Cheney, Washington.
Jonah Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonahpbaker