Hitting 3-pointers is common for the Idaho women’s basketball team, but for junior post Ali Forde to hit one isn’t quite so commonplace.
“That was pretty awesome,” Forde said. “I always get really excited when I make 3s whether I bank them in or I swish them in. It felt pretty great.”
Forde and the Vandals kept their Big Sky Tournament hopes alive thanks to a 71-42 victory over Weber State Thursday night at the Cowan Spectrum.
Along with Forde, fellow post Nejra Solo, a redshirt freshman, also hit a 3. The Idaho post players were 2-for-2 from three Thursday, the usually soft-spoken Forde said.
The Vandals have one more game at 2 p.m. Saturday against Idaho State in the Cowan Spectrum to secure a berth in the conference tournament.
“This was a game we had to win to have any chance to get into the Big Sky Tournament,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “We knew the importance of the game and I thought we came out and played with a lot of energy and intensity.”
The game Saturday is a win-and-in game for both the Vandals and Bengals after ISU lost to Eastern Washington Thursday in Cheney, Washington.
Newlee hopes there is a big home crowd Saturday to make things tough of the Bengals, much like they did to the Vandals during the 71-50 ISU win Jan. 1.
“Hopefully the people come out and give us a home-court advantage like those guys have in Pocatello,” Newlee said. “I thought that really helped them that first game of the year and I would like to return the favor.”
Saturday will be the last game in the Cowan Spectrum for two Vandals, including Big Sky leading scorer Stacey Barr.
She said the reality of the final home game of her Vandal career is starting to hit her, but it will be much more intense Saturday afternoon.
“There are definitely a lot of emotions,” Barr said. “I am sure I will have a lot of emotions while putting on the jersey for the last time.”
Barr finished her second-to-last game in the Cowan Spectrum with her 20th 20-point game of the year and her eighth in the last nine games. She finished the night with 21 points.
In total she made five field goals during the win, but the most impressive may have been a slashing layup she made late in the first half in which she flew past two defenders on her way to the rim.
The game was tight between UI and WSU, before a 30-14 Idaho run ended the first half.
“I think I will attribute it to our defense tonight,” Newlee said. “I thought defensively we really clamped down out of the zone, got to their shooters.”
The defensive effort helped keep the Vandals’ lead intact to start the second half. The two teams were scoreless for over four minutes of the half before sophomore post Brooke Reilly ended the drought.
The experience the Vandals have gained over the last two seasons playing in NCAA Tournament games and WAC Championships will help keep the team ready for Saturday’s game, Barr said.
Should the Vandals win the season finale, the Big Sky Tournament will begin next weekend on the home court of the Montana Grizzlies, the regular season champions.
Joshua Gamez can be reached at email@example.com