In tough games every single minute of play counts.
Whether ahead of the opponent or trailing behind, players are expected to give it their all — every play, every minute — for the full 40 minutes.
Idaho knows this. The Vandals have pulled out big wins that demanded everything the players could give. But Idaho found itself on the losing side in a matchup against Northern Colorado.
Heading into the game it was easy to assume it would be a tough match regardless of the final score. Northern Colorado sits at the No. 1 spot in the Big Sky Conference, with only one loss in conference play, two losses total.
Overall, the numbers and ranks of an opponent don’t matter. All that matters is that Idaho heads into every game with the idea of coming out strong and winning — especially in front of the home crowd. Knowing it is going to be a challenge should push the players to come out tougher than ever and ready to go.
Maybe this was the mentality, maybe that was the plan — but if it was it didn’t show. Both teams came out but only one seemed amped up and ready to play, and it wasn’t the Vandals.
Northern Colorado controlled the game from the start. The Bears jumped out with a six-point lead, eventually extending it to 14 points in the second quarter, while limiting Idaho to only 12 points.
The first and second quarter statistics show the slow start. In the second quarter alone Idaho went 3-8 from beyond the arc and shot only 28.6 percent from the field. This looks rather lopsided compared to Northern Colorado’s 44.4 percent field goal shooting and 37.5 percent from the perimeter.
Luckily for Idaho, the game doesn’t end at the halftime. The final 20 minutes of play seemed to look up for the Vandals, who managed to close a 13-point score gap and bring it within one point at the end of the third quarter.
Idaho continued to fight through the last 10 minutes and came close to grabbing the lead in the closing minutes of the game only to ultimately fall short.
The second half stats are a significant improvement from those of the first. The Idaho bench stepped up to contribute 12 of 19 points in the second while sophomore guard Mikayla Ferenz also added 12 points to build off her eight from the opening half.
The second half looked much better for the Vandals, but it wasn’t quite enough. Northern Colorado had Idaho for the full 40 minutes. Despite Idaho’s second half step-up, the Bears held onto the game from the start, handing the Idaho its fifth loss in conference play.
Meredith Spelbring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org