Idaho women’s basketball team had ice in its veins, and not just because of the weather outside.
Combining a hot first half of scoring with stone-cold defense, the Vandals came away with a 86-59 win over Montana Thursday night in Missoula.
Idaho’s head coach Jon Newlee said he was glad to get a win over a familiar foe.
“I have spent a lot of bus rides from here not being too happy. I am really proud of my team tonight. I thought they came in and played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Newlee said.
The Vandals took a while to warm up and missed four consecutive shots following a short jumper by junior post Geraldine McCorkell. Luckily for Idaho, Montana also missed four consecutive shots.
McCorkell put up four points later in the quarter to get things rolling for Idaho.
Guard Taylor Goligoski carried the weight for the Grizzlies early. She took the first four shots for her team, making the first on a short jumper.
McCorkell scored the last points of the quarter on a three-pointer with 14 seconds left, giving Idaho a 20-8 lead.
Defensive efforts by senior point guard Karlee Wilson helped keep Idaho in the lead early.
“Karlee Wilson’s on-ball defense was tremendous. It really took Montana out of its rhythm. The point guard could not sit there and get calls from the bench. She had her hands full with Karlee. She was all over her like an angry hornet. She was just on her and it really took them out of rhythm. She almost single handedly disrupted their entire offense,” Newlee said.
Idaho continued its onslaught into the second quarter. After giving up two pairs of free throws and a handful of missed three’s, sophomore guard Mikayla Ferenz hit a deep shot for three.
The shot started a back-and-forth of scoring.
Wilson hit another three for Idaho, followed by jumper from Montana. Sophomore guard Taylor Pierce found her footing, hitting three consecutive three pointers. Montana gained five points from Goligoski near the end of the half.
As the teams headed to the locker room, the Vandals led 41-28.
Despite the deficit, Montana remained in the game.
A conservative attack led by Goligoski helped the Grizzlies earn valuable points in the paint, especially halfway through the third quarter. However, Idaho again would regain control of the game.
Ferenz and Pierce led an 11-0 run at the end of the quarter. The fast-paced offense gave Idaho a 72-42 entering the final period.
The Montana offense came alive in the fourth quarter, and the Grizzlies did their best to pull a late-game comeback.
Guard McKenzie Johnston and forward Emma Stockholm helped Montana outscore Idaho 13-9 to open the quarter. Idaho did its best to maintain its lead with free throws as the Grizzlies attempted to slow the pace of the game. However, the Vandals delivered on their free throws to close out the game and keep the lead comfortable.
Pierce led in scoring with 22 points. Wilson had the most rebounds with six and led in assists with nine.
Idaho will continue in Big Sky play on the road against Montana State. The Vandals tip off against the Bobcats 2 p.m. Jan. 7.
Brandon Hill can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill