Conference road wins are hard to come by in college basketball, so the Idaho Vandals will no doubt relish their 90-88 overtime victory at Louisiana Tech tonight. Especially since it's Idaho's first win in program history at the Bulldogs' Thomas Assembly Center.
Read on for a recap of the wild finish in Ruston, La.
The Vandals have corrected their free-throws issues and inability to close out tight games. Their turnover problem, on the other hand, almost cost them another game.
Idaho had 19 turnovers tonight, and their last one — with 12.5 seconds left — gave La. Tech the ball and a chance to tie down 90-87. The Vandals then did the one thing they seemingly couldn't afford — they fouled the Bulldogs' Ryan Appleby as he was going up for a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left.
Appleby made the first free throw, missed the second and intentionally clanked the final freebie to set up a potential offensive rebound. But Landon Tatum pulled down the board and Idaho prevailed.
That's two wins in a row for UI (9-8, 2-1 in the WAC), and both have come down to the wire with the Vandals overcoming late-game blunders.
“So much adversity,” UI coach Don Verlin said. “I really compliment our guys. It looked we were in trouble, like we were so many times here in the past. Once we were able to get the game in a half-court set, we were able to get our shooters open looks and away we went.”
Idaho played poorly throughout the first half and was down 50-37 early in the second half. Its comeback could prove key if the club can stay near the top of the WAC standings.
Saturday night, the Vandals are at New Mexico State, which crushed Utah State in Las Cruces tonight. NMSU and Hawaii are 2-0 in the WAC, and Nevada leads the conference at 3-0. Idaho is behind them at 2-1.
A clear pecking order is developing atop the WAC standings — and at the bottom. Nevada and NMSU have to be considered the top two teams, but Idaho is positioned to be in the top three or four. Road wins like tonight's should help.