W. Basketball Commentary: Final minute fallout

As a fan, nothing is better than watching a team play a full game, where every minute and every play could change the final results. Every point matters. And yet, on the flipside, nothing is more painful than watching a team battle and look like it could come out on top only to watch the victory slip away in the final seconds of the game.

Fans of the Idaho women’s basketball team are not strangers to this feeling. Vandal fans have seen the team win big and pull out a last second victory, but they have also seen Idaho fall in the final minutes of a game.

The loss to Montana State in the Cowan Spectrum was another disappointing loss. Both teams went back and forth for the entire 40 minutes, many of which looked like Idaho would pull ahead and find a win against the Bobcats after a 64-80 loss earlier in the month. Although the opponents led for the majority of the game, Idaho was consistently within a few points.

But the final minute of the game didn’t go in Idaho’s favor.

The Idaho defense was unable to hold Montana State to keep the victory within reach. A couple missed shots from the Idaho offense and a few made shots allowed by the defense sealed the win for the Bobcats.

It was a discouraging end to an exciting game, for both fans and the team.

Yet this isn’t the first time a game has ended this way for the Vandals. While it’s true basketball teams have their share of wins and losses regarding close games, the Vandals currently seem to have more losses than wins.

In this case, a “close game” is defined as a game with a score gap anywhere from 1-5 points. By this standard, Idaho women have won three of seven “close games”.

The Vandals pulled out a close win over opponents Seattle University, California State Fullerton and Wyoming earlier in the season.

However, that means there are five other close games that the team has dropped.

It could be pointed out that the strength of the opponent is key in assessing the strength of the win or loss. Idaho faced off against the University of Oregon in Eugene, a team that is one of the strongest in the Pac12, and nearly pulled the upset in the final seconds of the game. While a loss is still a loss, it is a loss that showed the strength and resilience of the team.

But, Idaho was barely able to take the win over California State Fullerton, who at the time had no wins.

Watching the defending Big Sky champs play, it is clear they are a strong team — it has players  who consistently top the leaderboard. But as the season goes on it, also begins to look like the Vandals have a tendency to struggle closing tough games.

I have seen teams with records that didn’t make them look nearly as strong as they were and then went on to watch them snag a big win with a clutch shot in the final seconds. Any Portland Trailblazer fan knows the feeling.

A team with the strength and depth that Idaho has undoubtedly has the potential to go far in the conference. I’ve seen it before.

Luckily for the Vandals, and their fans, it is still early and we will all be there cheering until the final seconds when the clutch shot results in one of the big wins.

Meredith Spelbring can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu


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