Frustration boiled over Thursday night at the Cowan Spectrum, this time following a conference opening loss for Idaho. Idaho coach Don Verlin declined any media availability following Idaho’s 80-74 loss to Missouri-Kansas City, the second consecutive loss at home in which Idaho couldn’t hold on to a late second half lead.
The loss continues a worrying trend carrying over from last seasons’ Western Athletic Conference schedule that constantly saw Idaho squander late game opportunities at home. It’s a trend that also carries over from last Saturday’s loss to Montana in which Idaho led for the entire game except for the final four seconds in a one-point loss.
The second half run by the Kangaroos started at the 5:08 mark when Kansas City started what would turn into a 19-8 run to close out the game. Again, it was free throw shooting that doomed Idaho. Idaho missed three free throws from that point which could have had Idaho up a point with under a minute.
Credit also goes to first year coach Kareem Richardson and his ‘Roos. They went 5-for-11 during the 19-8 run, and hit all eight of their free throw shots with under 22 seconds to go.
Prior to Kansas City’s game-ending run, the Vandals had held the ‘Roos to 8-of-24 shooting in the second half en route to its 66-61 lead, this after trailing Kansas City 40-32 at halftime. A lot of that had to do with Kansas City’s 2-of-14 shooting from beyond-the-arc in the second half (including one possession set where Kansas City was 0-3 after two offensive boards).
Statistics might just make the final result of this one more frustrating for Idaho, however. Despite drastically out-shooting Kansas City in the second half (56-percent to UMKC’s 37-percent) the Vandals were only 2-of-7 in the final five minutes of the half to go along with their two turnovers and three missed free throws.
And so, after another second half disappointment, Kansas City leaves Moscow with its first ever WAC win. Idaho will get the opportunity to welcome Chicago State into the conference with its first ever WAC contest, hosting them at the Cowan Spectrum on Saturday.
Other game notes
– Freshman guard Sekou Wiggs almost played the role of savior. He was efficient slashing to the bucket, finishing with 16 points and constantly keeping Kansas City from blowing the lead open in the first half and early in the second half.
– Stephen Madison has found his game. He finished with 20 points with only one 3-point attempt. When he gets into the paint he is hard to defend.
– Connor Hill became the all time leader in 3-point baskets made at the University of Idaho on Thursday with his 169th make.
– Freshman Perrion Callandret saw six minutes on Thursday, but saw minutes late in the game when it was very much in contest. There were some struggles on defense and he wasn’t much involved on offense. It’s still interesting to see what role he can develop into.
– Bira Seck followed up a double-double against Montana witha disappointing 5 point, 3 rebound performance and was only on the floor for 13 minutes.