Despite a season high 20-point performance from junior guard Christina Salvatore, the Vandals fell to North Dakota 68-62 Thursday night.
On a night in which Idaho’s leading scorer — Stacey Barr didn’t make her first field goal until 11:26 left in the second half, getting a lift from the junior sharpshooter was huge.
“Christina really did a great job stepping up,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “That’s what a leader should do. She stepped up and made some shots, fought hard, got some rebounds. This is definitely the best game she’s played in a while … We needed her tonight.”
Barr had been on hot streak this season, averaging 20.4 points per game heading into North Dakota, which is ranked No. 23 in the country.
Salvatore gave the Vandals a lift at the end of the first half by hitting all three free throws after she was fouled on a 3-point shot attempt, cutting the UND lead to 27-26 at the break.
The loss drops the Vandals to 8-9 on the season and 2-4 in the Big Sky. The Vandals will be back in action Saturday when they take on Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado.
As a team, the Vandals struggled offensively, shooting a mere 33.3 percent from the field on the night. But UND fared better, shooting 41.9 percent on the night.
Despite the loss, Idaho performed admirably on the defensive end of the floor, Newlee said.
“We left this one out here … It is frustrating,” Newlee said. “It is so disappointing to do what we wanted to do defensively, we wanted to shoot the 3. We did a pretty good job inside … The dribble penetration in the second half cost us from a defensive standpoint, but we did a pretty good job overall.”
Along with the defensive performance, the Vandals had a great night on the glass, despite being out rebounded 45-35 on the night.
The Vandals were dominated on the glass in the early going, but Newlee and the Vandals regrouped during a media timeout.
“After that first five minutes, when they really got on that glass hard, we had that immediate timeout,” Newlee said. “We told them ‘Hey, if you guys don’t block out it is going to be a long night … I thought our guys did a great job, especially with Ali (Forde) in foul trouble.”
In the second half, Forde came out on fire, scoring each of the Vandals’ first seven points of the second half. Along with a Brooke Reilly basket near the glass, the Vandals started the half on a 9-0 run.
After that, UND got into a rhythm offensively along with Idaho missing 15 layups. Newlee said his team can’t miss 15 layups and expect to beat the Big Sky leader.
Despite those issues, the Vandals did everything they could to potentially steal a victory, but they couldn’t get it done. The team shot well, defended well … But they didn’t hit the layups when they needed them.
“I said we did everything we came in here to do,” Newlee said. “That is what’s so rough about it. It’s not like we are missing a bunch of 3s or taking bad shots.”
Joshua Gamez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org