Idaho put on another offensive explosion Friday night to finish out their games at the Cowan Spectrum.
The Vandals extended their win streak to seven with an 85-71 win over Eastern Washington. Idaho’s last loss was against Eastern Washington nearly a month ago.
Idaho (13-10, BSC 9-3) took control early, as the Vandals blazed out to a 13-0 run and forced Eastern Washington (12-12, BSC 7-5) into bad shot after bad shot. During the same time period, the Eagles shot 0-9 from the field.
Eastern Washington was able to shrink the deficit down to eight points in the third quarter, but Idaho’s offense proved to be too much. 23 points in the fourth quarter was more than enough to secure the win.
Idaho played the game on the front end of a double-header with the men’s team taking the court directly afterward. The team fed off of the energy that the larger-than-usual crowd gave them.
“The fan support tonight was huge, and it really helped us out,” Idaho Head Coach Jon Newlee said after the game. “We’re playing some of our best basketball right now and it’s encouraging to see this kind of sustained production. We just have to keep it going come March.”
Idaho’s defense clamped down on the Eagles and forced them into tough shots all night. Eastern Washington finished shooting 35.6 percent from the field and only 23.8 percent from three.
“Defensively we played the way we wanted to and executed our game plan,” Newlee said. “Since we lost at Eastern we’ve made some serious efforts to fix our defense and rebounding and you saw those efforts come to fruition tonight.”
There were plenty of contributions from old and new faces.
Senior post Geraldine McCorkell and junior guard Mikayla Ferenz combined for 55 of Idaho’s 80 points. McCorkell shot 6-7 from 3-point range and added seven rebounds. Ferenz finished with 29 points on 10-13 shooting from the floor to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. The team as a whole shot 50.9 percent from the field.
“Everyone’s really embracing their roles right now and that’s coming through in our defense,” Ferenz said. “I knew they were going to face-guard me all night, but they were really going for my shot fake and I just had a really good night where most of the shots went in.”
Senior post Nejra Solo put in a surprise performance. She recorded career highs in points and rebounds, putting up 12 and 11 respectively. It was her first career double-double.
“I was glad to put up a good complete performance in my last game at Cowan,” Solo said. “My teammates kept finding me down low and getting me good looks over and over again.”
Senior forward Delaney Hodgins was the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week coming into the game, but the Eagles did not get their usual production from her. She finished with a season-low 16 points on 5-15 shooting.
Idaho avenged their most recent loss earlier in the season and have now beaten each of the conference opponents they have faced. With the win, Idaho has split their last six games with the Eagles over the past two seasons.
“Obviously it’s great to get that revenge,” McCorkell said. “It’s always fun to get those super competitive matchups and we seem to get a good performance every time.”
Idaho will travel to take on Montana State at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 in Bozeman, Montana.
Jonah Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonahpbaker