After a strong 40 minutes from both teams, Idaho State topped the Vandals in the final minutes of play. Idaho fell to its in-state rival 67-60.
Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said he was disappointed with the way his team responded to a tough game and gave credit to the opponents.
“I thought for whatever reason we didn’t fight through the physicality of the game and let that affect us,” said Newlee in a news release. “They came up and made some big shots so hats off to them. You know they haven’t been shooting the three very well but they did alright tonight and did a good job. Seton does a good job with that team and they came in prepared and finished it out, closed it out and we didn’t.”
Idaho (7-9, 2-3 BSC) got off to a slow start in the opening 10 minutes of play but quickly found a rhythm. Idaho State (9-7, 3-2 BSC) struck first to take a momentary lead before the Vandals picked it up and held on to the lead for the remainder of the quarter, leading by as many as ten points.
Both teams continued to build momentum throughout the second quarter. The Bengals closed the gap and snagged the lead to jump ahead by one late in the second.
The once 11-point game quickly turned into a close match. Both teams became more aggressive as halftime approached. The Vandals held on to the lead 35-31 heading into the half.
Sophomore guard Mikayla Ferenz and junior post Geraldine McCorkell lead the way for the Idaho offense. Ferenz posted 16 points followed by 10 from McCorkell who also had seven rebounds and went 4-4 from the free throw line.
Bengal Saylair Grandon finished the first half with nine points as the top scorer for Idaho State.
The momentum carried over into the third quarter as both teams continued to play aggressively. Idaho held on to its lead at the end of the third, 52-47.
The final 10w minutes of play looked different than the 30 that had preceded it. Idaho State continued its aggressive attack and the Vandals fell back.
The Vandals held a nine point lead just minutes into the fourth quarter but slowly let it fall away as the Bengals caught up and closed the gap with an eight point run to bring the game within a single point.
Part way through Idaho State’s run, senior point guard Karlee Wilson went down with an injury and sat on the bench for the remainder of the game.
Newlee discussed the impact of Wilson’s absence in the final quarter of the game.
“It was huge. You know we haven’t played a long stretch without her this year so it was rough,” Newlee said. “It happens right there. Especially on that play. We will see what the doctor says and hopefully we will get her back here sooner rather than later.”
A pair of free throws from Ferenz brought the Vandals to 60 and the rest was all Idaho State. A 3-point jumper and a couple trips to the free-throw line allowed the Bengals to gain a seven point lead and shut Idaho out, claiming the victory.
Ferenz and McCorkell finished the game as the offensive headliners.
Ferenz totaled 22 points and went 6-7 from the free-throw line but only hit 2-8 three-point attempts.
McCorkell lead the team with 23 points and two assists.
On top for Idaho State was Grandon who finished the night with 24 points.
The Bengal bench outscored the Vandals’ 17-11, a normal strength of the Idaho team.
The Idaho State defense limited the Vandals to just 32.7 percent shooting and 22.6 percent from beyond the arc, a vast difference from the 41.7 percent accuracy from the Bengals throughout the game.
After a disappointing day, Newlee commented on expectations in the Big Sky and of road games to come.
“You can’t lose home games in the Big Sky and expect to win the regular season titles, I know that. You need to defend your home floor and you know it is disappointing we didn’t do that here today it just means we have to go and get some more on the road now.”
Idaho moves forward to take on Southern Utah 6:30 pm Thursday in Cedar City, Utah.
Meredith Spelbring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org