The Idaho women’s basketball team attempted to break a streak of seven consecutive losses to Montana State, but fell short in a 66-61 loss Thursday night at the Cowan Spectrum.
The Vandals surrendered 20 turnovers to the Bobcats and were limited to 26 percent from beyond the arc.
“I saw some people just trying to make something out of nothing, instead of dribbling into three people, you’ve got to trust your teammates and pass the ball,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said.
The win drops Idaho to 9-10 on the year and 4-4 in Big Sky Conference play.
Junior post Geraldine McCorkell opened the game with a hot streak, scoring eight of Idaho’s first 11 points. But Montana State senior guard Peyton Ferris connected on her first three shots to help the Bobcats (14-5 overall, 7-2 Big Sky) jump to an early lead.
“She’s a great player, I thought she made some incredibly difficult shots throughout the game,” Newlee said.
In the closing seconds of the opening period, senior point guard Karlee Wilson drove past her defender and underneath the basket for a twisting lay-in at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 18-15.
The two teams continued a physical battle in the following quarter, but eight offensive rebounds helped Montana State claim a 35-30 lead at the break.
McCorkell led the Vandals in the first half with 12 points. Wilson posted five points and collected two rebounds, while redshirt junior post Brooke Reilly collected four boards.
Ferris and senior forward Riley Nordgaard combined for 22 points for Montana State, with Ferris going a perfect 5-5from the floor.
Sophomore guard Taylor Pierce helped the Vandals knot the game to 48-48 late in the third quarter by converting a one-and-one opportunity from free-throw line..
But in the end, it was a five-minute scoring drought from the field that proved to be the deciding factor in the matchup. After the Bobcats took a 62-59 lead, guard Delany Junkermier connected on her lone basket of the night from the baseline with 44 seconds left to help her team clinch the win.
“That’s the one shot she hit all game, but she was open and that’s her job,” Pierce said. “It just hurt.”
The Vandals committed 20 turnovers in the loss, compared to nine surrendered by the Bobcats.
“We just didn’t have the composure that we needed to today,” Pierce said.
McCorkell finished with a double-double, tallying 22 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
“I thought she did a great job — especially in the first half — of really attacking when they were trying to take away Mikayla (Ferenz) and some of our outside game,” Newlee said.
Ferris shot 56 percent from the field and led both teams with 24 points.
“(Nordgaard) just goes hard,” McCorkell said. “Credit to her, she gets to the rim. We just needed to stay straight up.”
Idaho returns to the court to host Montana 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Cowan Spectrum.
Josh Grissom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GoshJrissom