The former AP Top-25 Washington Huskies marched in to Moscow Friday night and handed Idaho its first home loss of the season.
Idaho dropped the game by 12 points and lagged by as many as 17 throughout the game, yet despite a double-digit win, the Huskies did not run all over the Vandals.
Washington won both the first and third quarter, but Idaho won the second 16-15 and tied the fourth 22-22.
The score remained tight throughout the opening half, as the Huskies seemed to struggle to put a lot of points on the board. It wasn’t until midway through the second quarter the Dawgs found any success beyond the arc.
At the end of the opening quarter, Idaho was 3-6 from the three while the Huskies were 0-0. When the opponents di find the net on a deep shot, it was almost always from Jenna Moser, who went 4-4 on the night, making up nearly 67 percent of the teams 3-pointers.
Washington finished the night 46.9 percent from the field goal range, hitting 30 of 64 shots. Idaho did not trail the Huskies by much, hitting 23-52 for 44.2 percent shooting on the night.
Where did it go wrong for the Vandals? How was the team that was seemingly evenly matched to the Vandals on paper able to pull away for a 12-point win?
There is only one area where the scales are completely tipped towards the Dawgs — bench scoring. The Husky bench outscored that of the Vandals’ 28-8. That is not to say that was the difference maker in the game, necessarily.
The entire Husky team had fresh legs for the duration of the game. Of the Washington starters, Jenna Moser played the most minutes at 34. The rest of the starters had 25 minutes or less. Yet the Washington bench contributed more than their fair share to the game. Kierra Collier finished the night with 28 total minutes while the rest ranged from eight minutes to just over 20. Less than halfway through the first quarter, each and every Husky had put in minutes on the court and no Husky finished the game without a score.
This is nearly incomparable to that of the Vandal bench. Of the 190 total minutes played, the Idaho bench together only played 22. Junior guards Taylor Pierce and Mikayla Ferenz and freshman guard Allison Kirby all contributed nearly 40 minutes on the hardwood, making up almost 60 percent of the team’s total playing minutes.
The Huskies may not have been as on-target with the 3-pointers and only marginally ahead of the home team in field goals, they were able to spread out the play and wear the Vandals down. Not a single Husky played a full game.
The opponents had time to breath, regroup, and figure out how to better one-up Idaho. Washington has an all-around strong program that gives them the luxury to spread out minutes the way a Pac-12 team can afford to against a relatively small program like Idaho.
There is no question the Ferenz and Pierce are the some of the strongest athletes in Idaho history, yet alone the strongest on the current roster. The two upper-classman have the talent to spend a full 40 minutes battling it out on the court. Kirby is in the earliest phase in her career and is
backed by a bench of talented players that can support the team in the same way. Why wear her out as opposed to rotating through more fresh legs?
Idaho started the game with all of its eggs in one basket, but once those “eggs” were worn out, the team had nothing left while Washington continued to power through.
The Idaho “Splash Sisters” will continue to dominate the Vandal game in nearly all categories throughout the season, but maybe it is time to share the love in the minutes column.
Meredith Spelbring can be reached at email@example.com