Idaho did not manage to start 2018 on the right foot.
The Vandals lost their matchup at Sacramento State Thursday, 79-64. Despite strong individual stat lines from regular contributors, Idaho was not able to overcome a slow start in the loss.
The Hornets took commanding control early on.
Sacramento State (3-10, BSC 1-1) raced out to a 20-3 lead before the end of the first quarter, putting the Vandals in an incredibly difficult spot.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said. “It was really disappointing that it was 20-3 and I had to call two timeouts to try and wake up some people. I thought we were ready.”
Idaho (5-9, BSC 1-2) ended the first quarter down 28-9, with their only points coming from three pointers from freshman guard Allison Kirby and junior guard Taylor Pierce.
The rest of the first half did not go much better, as the Vandals could manage only 29.2 percent shooting from the field. Junior guard Mikayla Ferenz shot 2-14 in the first half, including 0-5 from 3-point range.
“We know what Mik (Ferenz) is capable of when she catches fire, but she just wasn’t making anything in the first half,” Newlee said.
The Vandals finished with just 21 points in the first half, only one more than their season low.
Despite her first half struggles, Ferenz turned it on in the second half as the Vandals did their best to make the game interesting.
Ferenz led the charge in the third, shooting 8-9 from the field and 4-5 from behind the arc. Idaho was able to cut Sacramento State’s lead down to 11 in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Hornets proved to be too much.
Sacramento State had four players finish in double figures, led by a 29-point effort from sophomore guard Hannah Friend. Sophomore forward Kennedy Nicholas put contributed to Idaho’s struggles with a 12 point, 11 rebounds performance for the Hornets.
“Sacramento State was 2-10, but they are a good team,” Newlee said. They had some injuries and a tough schedule, but they outplayed us tonight. By the time we woke up, it was too late.”
Idaho did not manage to get closer than an eight-point deficit. Despite another season-high 33 points from Ferenz and a good shooting night from freshman guard Allison Kirby, the Vandals were unable to overcome rough nights from junior guard Taylor Pierce (4-17 FG) and the post players. Idaho’s forwards combined for just six points between the four of them in over 70 combined minutes.
The Vandals shot only 2-13 over the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter, and Sacramento State went on one last 12-3 run to ice the game.
Despite her off night, Pierce is now only 25 points away from 1,000 in her career. She and Ferenz both played the full 40 minutes.
“It is unfortunate that she had to play all those minutes, and we need some help,” Newlee said. “I thought Kirby gave us some from the offensive end, but we got nothing from the post players tonight and that needs to change.”
The Vandals will travel to take on Portland State at 1 p.m. Saturday in Portland, Oregon.
Jonah Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonahpbaker