The new year, and a new month, will be a welcome sight for the Idaho Vandals. They dropped their third straight game and fourth in December — each coming by no more than three points — with a 76-73 loss to Boise State at the Idaho Center in Nampa. Idaho stands at 7-7 heading into WAC play, and it has lost three straight to Leon Rice's BSU club.
As we noted in this space earlier this week, the Vandals have been bitten by three deficiencies so far this season — free-throw and offensive rebounding woes and too many turnovers. Saturday, it was the turnover issue that really hurt. UI gave the ball away 18 times — with seven coming from big man Kyle Barone — compared to Boise State's seven turnovers.
The Vandals constructed a 14-0 run to get back in the game late in the first half and in the early moments of the second. The swing erased a 12-point deficit and gave Idaho a momentary 41-39 advantage.
But BSU pushed its lead back to a dozen a few minutes later, on a 3-pointer from Jeff Elorriaga at the 13:01 mark. That's when Idaho started slowly chipping away, eventually getting within one, 74-73, on a pair of Landon Tatum free throws with 3.9 seconds left.
After an Idaho foul and two free throws from BSU's Drew Wiley, the Vandals' inbounds pass was tipped by BSU with 0.5 seconds left. Barone then threw up a 3-point heave at the buzzer that was off the mark, and Idaho was left with yet another gut-wrenching loss to ponder before Thursday's WAC opener with Nevada (8 p.m. in Moscow).
The Vandals were led by Deremy Geiger's 17 points, while Stephen Madison had 16 points and eight rebounds. Geiger, Madison and Barone combined for 44 points.
You can read more about the game here.