Despite a career-best 27 points from sophomore post Brooke Reilly, Sacramento State’s full-court press and 12-player bench proved to be too much for the Vandal women’s basketball team.
The Hornets outlasted the Vandals 107-89 Thursday night in the Cowan Spectrum.
The loss drops the Vandals to 7-8 on the season and 1-3 in the Big Sky. The Vandals now shift their focus to Portland State who comes to the Cowan Spectrum Saturday.
“We knew what they were going to do, they were going to send all those people in and try to create chaos,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “They didn’t do anything we didn’t know they were going to do, we’ve just never faced them before … It looks different on film at times, but to their credit they made a bunch of shots tonight.”
This is the first of two meetings between the two teams. They will face off again Feb. 14 in Sacramento, California. This first glimpse could be key to figuring out how to defend an offense that is hard to prepare for otherwise.
“It helps a lot when you play teams more than once,” junior guard Christina Salvatore said. “When you play them once you get a feel for what they do. We tried to replicate it in practice, but you don’t really know until you are out there playing against them.”
The Vandals were able to get a spark early from Reilly, who hit Idaho’s first two field goals on the night — both 3-pointers.
After Reilly’s hot start, the Hornets began crashing down to defend the 3-point shot. This was when the Spokane native began hurting them with the drive, she took what the defense gave her all night, she said.
Along with Reilly, Newlee got big production out of Salvatore, senior guard Stacey Barr and junior post Ali Forde, who all finished in double figures.
“We knew we were going to get those looks,” Newlee said. “I thought Ali and Brooke … did a great job from 3-point range tonight — we knew we were going to get that look. I thought we’d get more points in the paint, but Ali getting into foul trouble really hurt us.”
Salvatore said this was definitely a wake up call for the team. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but now they know what to look for in the second matchup.
Forde finished the night with 17 points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes.
Barr played 39 minutes on a night in which she was battling an illness. Getting that many minutes out of her was impressive, Newlee said.
The slow start the Vandals have gotten off to is a far cry from a year ago when they won each of their first 10 games in conference play.
“We just have to find it, and once we find it we’ve got to keep it going and we’ve got to go get some wins,” Salvatore said. “We have got to protect our home floor too.”
Joshua Gamez can be reached at email@example.com