It looked like a ninth consecutive loss was on its way to the Idaho women’s basketball team. The Vandals found themselves down 18 early in the second half, but Idaho went on a terror to overcome Hawaii 69-61 for their first conference win of the season.
After 36 days and eight consecutive losses, the Vandals (6-16, 1-5 WAC) finally tasted victory again. Senior guard Keri Arendse led the way for Idaho with a career high 19 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double as a Vandal. Idaho coach Jon Newlee said Arendse’s performance sparked the rest of the team.
“I thought her drives really got her going and she knocked down a couple 3’s,” Newlee said. “I love the emotion, they played with heart and emotion on the road a long way from home and we just hung together.”
Despite a competitive first half, the Vandals went into halftime down by 11. Hawaii took control early in the second half and got its lead to 18 with 17:20 left to play, but that’s when the Vandals turned things up. Idaho then went on a 26-5 run to take the lead.
The Warriors would tie the game again, but the Vandals were able to keep the momentum on their side all the way to the finish for the much-needed win.
Newlee said he was thrilled with the way his team came back.
“When we got down 18 it was time to sink or swim and see what we’re actually made of,” Newlee said. “That’s one of the best comebacks I’ve ever been a part of, with everything going against us and we just kept fighting and fighting. I’m so proud of my team right now.”
The win came despite a large differential in rebounds. The Vandals gave up 30 offensive boards, which lead to 25 Hawaii points.
Idaho’s defense kept the Vandals in the game, holding the Warriors to just 26.9 percent shooting while the Vandals shot 45.2 percent.
Turnovers have been an issue for Idaho all season, but that was not the case against Hawaii. The Vandals only turned the ball over a season-low seven times.
The Vandals got their first WAC win of the season, but they’re still at the bottom of the conference. Newlee said he hopes this win will get momentum back on his team’s side.
“It should be a springboard,” Newlee said. “To get on the road and get this big win here it’s great for everybody.”
The Vandals will wrap up their road trip when they visit San Jose State Saturday. Idaho will then return home for two games against New Mexico State and La. Tech.