Idaho’s prospects at winning Thursday’s game against Weber State looked bleak during the first half.
However, the Vandals rallied late to beat the Wildcats 95-77.
Idaho (7-8, 2-2) got things started on a short jumper by Brooke Reilly. The early lead vanished quickly when forward Jocelyn Adams scored in back-to-back possessions.
Sophomore guard Mikayla Ferenz tried to get open looks, but the tough Wildcat defense kept her from finding the basket three times in the opening minutes.
Guard Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman’s long 3-pointer sailed through the net for the first three of the game, putting Weber State up 7-4.
The Wildcats (8-6, 2-1) started to pull ahead after an 11-2 run to close out the first quarter. At the break, Weber State led 28-17.
Two 3-pointers by Ferenz helped Idaho claw back into the game. However, Adams scored six straight points to keep the Wildcats’ lead comfortable. Pierce and Ferenz teamed up for six points near the end of the half, but a sharp pass led to forward Tyschal Blake laying in a last second basket for the Wildcats.
At halftime, Weber State led 45-42.
Idaho head coach Jon Newlee turned his team around, stepping up the pace of Idaho’s attack.
Junior post Geraldine McCorkell took charge after the tipoff, landing a long 3-pointer that tied the game at 45. McCorkell gave Idaho the lead on a layup during the next possession.
The Wildcats responded with a pair of baskets in the paint and a 3-pointer that stole the lead back from the Vandals.
With the game tied at 57, McCorkell lit up the court. She drove in for three straight baskets in the next minute, putting Idaho up 63-57. Weber State did its best to get back in the game, but at the end of the third quarter, the Vandals led 71-61.
Idaho continued to dominate the court in the final quarter. McCorkell and Ferenz combined for seven points in 30 seconds.
As the Wildcats’ hopes for a win slowly faded, their players began to desperately foul to save time. By the time the final buzzer sounded, Idaho’s lead had extended to 18.
Shooting, which had troubled the Vandals in the past, improved in the second quarter. Idaho made 50 percent of its baskets, compared to Weber State making 37 percent.
The Vandals also shot efficiently from the perimeter, going 8-23. The Wildcats kept their points in the paint and shot 6-29 from the outside.
Speed aided the Idaho offense, as the Vandals scored six points off fast breaks. Their 34 defensive rebounds kept the Wildcats from getting a second chance at reaching the rim.
Idaho continues in Big Sky play against Idaho State. The Vandals will face the Bengals 2 p.m. Jan. 14 in Cowan Spectrum.
Brandon Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill