Idaho fans got more entertainment than they bargained for on Thursday night.
In a game that featured multiple double-digit runs, The Vandals persevered through a back and forth second half to take a 69-68 win against Sacramento State.
Idaho came into the game heavily favored by ESPN’s win probability model, and they looked the part for most of the first half. After going blow-for-blow with the Hornets through the first 15 minutes of the half, the Vandals (10-5, BSC 2-1) began to pick it up. With four and a half minutes to go in the first half, Idaho went on a 14-2 run to close out the half leading 37-29. Senior guard Vic Sanders led the charge with 14 points in the first half with a 6-7 start at the free throw line.
The Hornets managed to adjust after halftime.
Idaho’s lead slowly dwindled away until Sacramento State took the lead with 13 minutes left in the second half. Sacramento State (4-11, BSC 1-1) was able to build an 11 point advantage with 7:42 left in the half and stymie any Vandal momentum. The Hornets were paced by senior forward Justin Strings and sophomore guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa, who both poured in 17 points. Mauriohooho-Le’afa finished shooting 50 percent from the field and Strings fell one rebound short of a double-double.
Idaho was able to respond in dramatic fashion once again.
The Vandals went on a 15-0 run that was capped off by a pair of free throws by senior forward Jordan Scott. Idaho would then go on to be held scoreless for the rest of the game. Mauriohooho-Le’afa hit a three to bring the Hornets within one point for the last minute of the game, but the Vandals were able to lock down and finish out the win.
Senior forward Brayon Blake put together his fifth double-double of the season, with 16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Sanders finished with 21 points, 11 of which came from the free throw line. He also led the team with five assists.
Senior guard Chad Sherwood had only one three pointer on the night, but it was enough to put him in sole possession of seventh place in program history with 138 career threes.
The Vandals will finish the short home stand against Portland State at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Cowan Spectrum.
Jonah Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonahpbaker