Idaho point guard Karlee Wilson out-performed everybody in the Vandals’ 75-50 win over Montana on Saturday.
Standing at 5’4”, the senior from Lewiston may seem small in stature, but she certainly does not play small on the court.
After riding the bench against Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, Wilson got on track with a season-high 18 points against the Grizzlies.
Wilson was a threat from everywhere on the court on Saturday. She hit three 3-pointers and came away with five steals and six assists, creating opportunities for her teammates while still taking the shots she knew she could make.
Perhaps this game was a sign of things to come this season. The Vandals need a leader at point-guard and Wilson stepped up in a big way, looking confident with every possession. With tons of experience under her belt, including playing time in the NCAA tournament, Wilson is a valuable asset to an Idaho team looking for another Big Sky championship.
Going into the second quarter, facing a one-point deficit, it looked like the Vandals may have to play another tight game. But Wilson played some scrappy, hard-working basketball for four quarters, ultimately leading to an easy win.
She always had her hand in the face of a Grizzly, leading to an impressive, five-steal performance on defense — a career high.
“Her defense was fantastic,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said. “She pressured the heck out of those point guards and really was just disruptive to their whole offensive scheme.”
Offensively, Wilson did not make many mistakes. Her handling, ball-movement, driving and shooting were prime, leading to some effective shots under the basket. Whenever there was an opening in the defense down the lane, Wilson took the opportunity, flipping in lay-ins over much larger defenders. It was easy to see Wilson’s talent shine through as she made some beautiful cuts inside and converted contested lay-ins.
Almost as if she was playing an intramural game with friends, Wilson played with a smile, looking calm, cool and collected. Having fun often leads to better play, and Wilson had a good time.
“(Today was) definitely one of her best games,” Newlee said. “She really took it, and really sparked us today.”
A team’s play is reflected by the attitude of its leaders, and Wilson certainly played a role in Idaho’s outstanding second-half performance.
A team needs scorers, and the Vandals seem to have no shortage of players who can drop 20 plus points at will. Sophomore guard Mikayla Ferenz had 41 Jan. 21 against Northern Arizona. Two days prior against Southern Utah, sophomore guard Taylor Pierce posted 25.
If players such as Wilson and Ferenz can consistently put up big numbers, Idaho’s Big Sky opponents will be left scratching their heads in Reno when the Vandals hoist their second straight Big Sky championship trophy above their heads.
Colton Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org