Hawaii came into last night 8-1 at home and as the WAC's best 3-pointing shooting team. But Idaho squelched the Warriors' long-range attack and came up with a satisfying 59-44 road win. The Vandals moved to 8-6 and 2-1 in the WAC after holding their second straight opponent to under 50 points.
Read on for more.
Because of the lateness of the game, we weren't able to get too many details in the paper. But we've included the UI media relation's recap below. Next up for UI is a trip to San Jose to play what figures to be a weary San Jose State club. The Spartans fell in four overtimes to Boise State on Thursday night.
HONOLULU, Hawaii – Leading by five at halftime, the University of Idaho men’s basketball team put on the clamps and held Hawai`i to just 15 second-half points in a 59-44 win at the Stan Sheriff Center Thursday night.
Idaho (8-6, 2-1 Western Athletic Conference) shot 43.8 percent from the field and held the WAC’s top 3-point shooting team to just 13.6 percent from beyond the arc. Hawai`i (9-6, 0-3 WAC) was 8-1 at their home arena going into the game.
Two of Idaho head coach Don Verlin’s main keys to victory on Thursday were to limit the potent Warrior 3-point attack and to be strong on the boards. Done and done. UH entered the game making a WAC-high 7.29 3-pointers on a conference-best .397 clip from beyond the arc, but they went just 3-of-22 (.136) on Thursday. Idaho also out-rebounded the Warriors 40-28 overall and 21-11 in the second half.
“I thought we got a number of good minutes from a number of guys,” Verlin said. “Most importantly is what we did tonight. When you hold someone to 29 percent and 14 percent from 3, you’re going to win a lot of your games.”
The Rainbow Warriors made three of their first six 3-point attempts, but then missed their final 16 long-range shots in the game, including all 12 in the second half. UH also entered the game as the WAC’s top 3-point percentage defense at .296 per game, but the Vandals were 6-of-17 (.353) from the arc on Thursday.
Paired with last Thursday’s 77-47 victory over Louisiana Tech, Idaho held consecutive opponents under 50 points for the first time since doing so against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly on Feb. 5-7, 2004. The Vandals have held their three WAC opponents to just .197 shooting from 3-point range this season.
Idaho sophomore center Kyle Barone led all scorers with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, along with six rebounds and a career-high-tying three assists. Senior guard Jeff Ledbetter put in 14 points and added a career night on the boards with nine rebounds. Senior guard Shawn Henderson also filled up the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds and a career-high four steals.
“You’ve got to give this team credit,” Verlin said. “As I’ve told Vandal fans all along, I like this team because they’re a good game prep team, they work hard, they understand what we’re trying to teach them and now we’re starting to get better.”
Idaho held UH’s top four scorers to just 25 combined points. Bill Amis, Zane Johnson, Hiram Thompson and Joston Thomas entered Thursday’s game averaging a combined 54.8 points, but no Rainbow Warrior scored in double figures and only one player made more than two field goals. Thompson led UH with nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.
“Our game prep was almost flawless tonight,” Verlin said. “That’s what I told our guys coming into this game. We had to execute our game plan and I thought we did about as good a job as we possibly could tonight.”
The Vandal rebounding advantage translated into a scoring advantage, as Idaho turned 12 offensive boards into 19 second-chance points, while the Warriors’ 10 offensive rebounds netted just nine second-chance points. Idaho also outscored Hawai`i 16-14 off turnovers, 24-16 in the paint and 24-13 off the bench.
Another key stat was that 22 of Idaho’s 40 boards came from backcourt, which helped limit Hawai`i to mostly one-shot possessions in the game.
“That’s huge, because the bigs are in a battle, especially with this team, so it’s huge for us to come and clean those up,” Ledbetter said about the rebounding effort of Idaho’s guards.
After a first half that featured 12 lead changes and four ties, the game appeared set to be a nail-biter. With Idaho leading by three points and Hawai`i playing for the last shot of the half, Shawn Henderson grabbed a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup that put Idaho up 34-29 at the break.
Idaho started the second period with the same gusto, and scored eight unanswered to open the half, six of which came from Henderson. Idaho stretched its lead to 13 at 42-29 with 17:36 remaining. After UH pulled within 9 at 42-33, Barone put Idaho back up by 11 with a jumper at 14:02 and the lead never dropped below double digits.
The next stage of this difficult road test will be on Saturday, when Idaho faces San Jose State at The Event Center. The Spartans fell to Boise State on Thursday in a marathon game, 102-101, in four overtimes. Saturday’s game tips off at 7:30 p.m. (PST).