Who better to tie or lead the Vandals in scoring, rebounds and blocks on “Ali Forde Day” than Ali Forde?
Saturday’s Idaho women’s basketball game against New Mexico State was “Ali Forde Day” in the Cowan Spectrum and the sophomore didn’t disappoint. In addition to signing autographs after the game, Forde recorded a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double while also connecting on a career-high seven blocks — and she barely played half the game.
“I was told that my mom wasn’t going to come today,” Forde said. “She showed up right before the game and I looked over and she was yelling ‘Ali, Ali,’ and I got this huge smile on my face. From there I just really wanted to play well for my mom.”
Forde and Vandals got out to an early 13-0 lead over the Aggies and didn’t look back from there. Idaho led 46-23 at the half and extended the lead to 79-51 for the victory over a young New Mexico State team composed of mostly freshmen and sophomores.
“I thought the start was huge for us tonight,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “I thought we came out really focused on both ends of the floor. We were very sharp offensively. I think defensively we were getting to where we needed to be, contesting those 3-pointers.”
The early lead allowed Idaho to rotate bench players into the game and give more rest to the starters. Only one Vandal player, senior guard Addie Schivo, played more than 30 minutes in the game.
Newlee said it was nice to be able to have more rest for starting point guard Connie Ballestero, who played the full game on Thursday, and get bench players like Schivo, Maren Austgulen and Brooke Reilly more playing time and experience.
Junior guard Stacey Barr joined Forde with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Vandals. Sophomore guard Christina Salvatore also had 10 rebounds for Idaho and senior post Alyssa Charlston added 13 points.
Idaho moves to 11-7 on the season and 4-0 in the WAC with the win while NMSU falls to 4-12 and 1-2 in the WAC. The Vandals are the only undefeated team left in the conference.
While Idaho’s Thursday game against Texas-Pan American was decided on the perimeter, this game featured dominance in the paint for the Vandals. Idaho outrebounded the Aggies 61-47 and outscored them 36-18 inside. The Vandal bench also stepped up outscoring the Aggie bench 25-8.
New Mexico State was the first WAC opponent Idaho has faced that was in the conference last season. The next two stops for the Vandals are road games against new WAC opponents Utah Valley on Thursday and Cal State-Bakersfield on Saturday.
“It was nice (to play a familiar opponent), we kind of knew what was going to happen, we knew the tendencies of some of their players at least,” Newlee said. “Like I just told Tom (Purvis) on the radio, ‘here goes another WAC road trip where we haven’t seen these teams before.’ But it was nice tonight to see a familiar opponent.”