It was a rough return home for the Idaho women after a long road trip to start the season.
The Vandals lost to Washington 81-69 in their first home game since Nov. 5th. Idaho was able to hang tough throughout the first half, but the team couldn’t keep up with the Huskies’ depth down the stretch.
Junior guards Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce contributed plenty to carry Idaho in the losing effort. Ferenz poured in 26 points courtesy in large part from 5-9 shooting from three.
Pierce was also effective from deep, adding four 3-pointers and 16 total points. Her fourth three also pushed her up to fourth place in the Vandal record book for 3-pointers made in a career.
“Taylor had plenty of good looks early,” head coach Jon Newlee said. “We did a great job of getting her shots tonight and Taylor and Mikayla did a great job of playing their games.”
Sophomore post Isabelle Hadden was an imposing presence inside, totaling eight points and four blocks. No other player on either team had more than one rejection.
The Vandals were able to hang tough with Washington for the entirety of the first half despite only two players recording made field goals. Ferenz made four threes in the first half and Pierce tacked on two more buckets from deep. Idaho had trouble everywhere else. The team shot 2-12 on regular field goals and both makes came from Ferenz and Pierce.
Washington had a much rougher go from behind the arc. The Huskies started out on an 0-11 drought from three, and did not make a three until the 3:40 mark in the second quarter. Washington was able to get to the rim consistently and finished the half up 31-27.
“Idaho did a nice job of sagging off and playing the percentages,” Washington head coach Jody Wynn said. “We were able to play inside-out against their zone in the second half and that made the difference.”
The Huskies didn’t get a 3-pointer from anyone besides senior Jenna Moser until the fourth quarter, but that didn’t matter. The Huskies dominated inside and finished with 42 points in the paint to Idaho’s 26.
“We can’t win games against anybody with those numbers in the paint,” Newlee said. “The turnovers were a big problem too.”
Washington’s defense gave the Vandals fits all night.
From the tip off, the Huskies challenged Idaho with a full court press that the Vandals were rarely able to exploit. The added pressure created plenty of extra Washington possessions, as the Huskies forced 20 turnovers and poured in 28 points directly off of those turnovers. Idaho managed to force only 12 Husky turnovers which created only 11 points.
“That press allows us to set the tone early on in games,” said Wynn. “We got tired towards the end of the half because our girls in foul trouble forced us to sub more than we wanted, but we want to generate offensive possessions through defense and I think we did a nice job of that tonight.”
The Vandals will continue out-of-conference play by hosting CSU Fullerton 6 p.m. Dec. in Memorial Gym.
Jonah Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonahpbaker