Idaho women’s basketball came up short against Northern Colorado Saturday, falling 78-72 in the Cowan Spectrum.
Junior guard Mikayla Ferenz got the game going for the Vandals on the opening tip to claim an early two-point lead. The Bears made sure the Vandals didn’t hold the advantage for long, hitting a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to get the go-ahead.
Throughout the first half, Northern Colorado kept the distance between the two teams, holding a consistent lead before heading into the break up 36-32.
Despite the score gap, Idaho stayed close with the opponents throughout the first half. The Vandals hit 50 percent from the floor and knocked down 3-5 shots from range. Senior post Geraldine McCorkell lead the way in scoring for the home team with 11 points.
Idaho slowly chipped away at the Northern Colorado lead in the third quarter, eventually reclaiming the lead 41-40 five minutes in after a Ferenz layup. Both team continued to battle throughout the third, exchanging leads five times throughout the 10-minute span. Idaho moved into the final quarter with the advantage, leading 51-48.
“It was great,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said of the comeback in a news release. “It was great to battle back and take the lead the way the game was going. We got up six or something later in the game and it was going well. Them we had some defensive breakdowns and went turnover, turnover, turnover. They go down and make layups. To their credit, they hit big shots. When they had wide open looks they got their shots down. They are a good team. There is no question about it.”
The Silver and Gold kept the lead away from the opponents for a few minutes into the final quarter but Northern Colorado stole it back with seven minutes left in the contest and didn’t let it go, sealing its 78-72 victory.
Idaho played a relatively tight game, but a season-high 23 turnovers proved to be too much for the team to recover from. The Vandal turnovers only propelled the Bears further ahead, who finished with 29 points off of turnovers alone.
“We were horrible tonight in taking care of the basketball,” Newlee said. “That is just the way it was. It was something we talked about. They [UNC] are a good defensive team. We knew they would be out looking for steals. We were talking about meeting passes and taking good care of the basketball and that certainly didn’t happen tonight and it cost us the game.”
Four Vandals finished the night in double digit scoring, led by McCorkell who finished with a team high 20 points and added five boards. Ferenz, junior guard Taylor Pierce and sophomore post Isabelle Hadden finished with 19, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Northern Colorado also found four scorers in double digits, led by Savannah Smith with 24 points on the game.
Both teams finished with good shooting marks. Idaho finished the contest with 42 percent from the floor compared to 43 percent from the opponents. The Bears found more success from deep, knocking down 12-28 attempts while the Vandals hit just 6-15.
“Just like I told these guys. That is the preseason No. 1 pick. You just saw them. You see what you have to do to compete with the team that is picked to win it all. It certainly is a long road ahead until we get to Reno. Turnovers are something we are going to have cleanup if we want to be on top of the podium in Reno,” Newlee said.
Idaho looks to get back on track against Sacramento State Thursday in Sacramento.
Meredith Spelbring can be reached at email@example.com