Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College fans alike found their way out of the wet weather and into the Memorial Gym for the Idaho women’s basketball opener where the home team come away with a decisive 82-67 win.
“I thought we played hard,” Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said. “I just wanted them to play hard and with a lot of enthusiasm. I thought it was like a typical exhibition game. Turnovers, bad decisions, not great defense at times. But at times we really locked down and ran some good stuff.
Junior guard Mikayla Ferenz struck first for the Vandals several minutes into the game with a free throw to put the Vandals on the board. Seconds later, Idaho’s returning First Team All-Big Sky player came back for the layup to give Idaho its first three points and an early lead.
A layup from senior post Nejra Solo gave the Vandals an 8-1 advantage halfway through the opening quarter but the LCSC Warriors didn’t let them keep the wide lead for long, going on a run to bring the score to 10-8 less than five minutes into the first quarter.
Freshman guard Allison Kirby made her first impact as a Vandal late in the first quarter with a three-point shot to push the Idaho lead out to 13-8.
The Warriors kept it close, but the Vandals were able to pull away for a larger advantage at the end of the first quarter. A layup from junior guard Sarah Bersang gave the home team a 26-14 lead with seconds left until the second quarter.
The start of the second was a bit slower for Idaho. Bersang broke a four-minute Idaho dry spell with five minutes left until the half, extending Idaho’s lead to 29-24.
LCSC kept it tight, despite Idaho’s consistent lead throughout the contest. A buzzer layup from sophomore post Isabelle Hadden with less than a minute to until the break pushed the Vandal lead to 43-34.
Kirby led the team in scoring at the halftime with 9 points, followed closely by Pierce who closed out the opening 20 minutes of play with six points.
Pierce came out swinging for the Vandals, knocking down a three-pointer almost immediately to give them a 46-34 advantage.
The home team cooled off for an legnthy period of time, going nearly five minutes without a score before senior post Geraldine McCorkell drained a three-point shot.
Both teams picked up speed and began knocking down shots left and right, driving the score out to 68-55 at the end of the third quarter.
The game seemed to slow for both sides of the ball, with each team battling scoring droughts of their own.
Freshman post Nina Carlson found her way to the rim with seconds left to play and scored Idaho’s final two points of the game. The Vandals closed out the game with a 82-67 win over Lewis-Clark State.
Four Vandal players finished with double digit scoring, led by Ferenz who had 17 points. Pierce came in with 15 and McCorkell and Hadden each with 10. Pierce and Kirby went 7-12 combined in three-point shots.
Ferenz took the charge on the defensive side of the ball, finishing the night with a team-high seven defensive rebounds and nine total.
Idaho is set to open the season against Colorado State 4:30 p.m. Friday in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Meredith Spelbring can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @mere0415