Success on the perimeter seemed to be a trend for the Vandals in their 85-66 victory over the Southern Utah Thunderbird Thursday in Cedar City. It started bleak for Idaho until late in the second quarter. The Vandals started the game 3-15 from beyond the arc before catching fire late and hitting a school-record 18 3-pointers.
“I thought we were making some bad decisions with the ball, turning it over way too much,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said. “We got off to a little shaky start but then we settled in and got some good lucks.”
Southern Utah came out with strong both offensively and defensively. Trouble hitting the three and consistent turnovers from Idaho allowed the Thunderbirds to take a 13-point lead early in the second quarter.
Idaho began to move the ball effectively later in the first half. Junior post Geraldine McCorkell spun into a lay-in to end a five-minute scoring drought for the Vandals.
Idaho would cut the lead down to 34-31 on an 8-0 run to end the first half. McCorkell and sophomore guard Taylor Pierce proved to be a force in Idaho’s second quarter comeback. Both had 10 points at the break, despite Pierce coming off the bench.
“(8-0 run) was huge and that is what I told them at the half,” Newlee said. “I said, ‘We are right back in it now.’ Our team did a fantastic job of responding in the last 20 minutes.”
Idaho and Southern Utah came out of the half with two 3-pointers each, reminding fans how the game has gone so far and foreshadowing things to come.
Junior post Brooke Reilly returned momentum to the Vandals when she hit the 13th perimeter shot of the game to give Idaho a 51-49 lead, its first since the first quarter.
The Vandals grew comfortable at the 3-point line, going 11 for 19 in the second half.
Southern Utah held the lead for more than double the time that Idaho did. But strength on the perimeter and fewer turnovers for the Vandals in the second half put an end to the Thunderbirds’ relentless pecking.
Southern Utah ended the game in a drought, only posting a single free throw in an eight-minute stretch.
Southern Utah guard Jaimie Smith and post Darri Frandsen kept it close until the fourth quarter. Smith was the second-leading scorer in the game, with 20 points. Frandsen earned a double-double, posting 18 points and collecting 10 rebounds.
Six players for Idaho hit at least two 3-pointers. Pierce led the team in 3-pointers and points, draining six threes, ending with 25 total points. Four players scored in double-figures for Idaho.
“(Pierce) was a little cold in the first half. Maybe she was as surprised as we were with how open she was.” Newlee said. “They do not think that we have other people that can score but we do. Obviously, Taylor can.”
The Idaho women’s basketball team pick up another conference win 5:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Northern Arizona.
Colton Clark can be reached at arg-sports.uidaho.edu