In Don Verlin's word, Idaho's loss at Utah State on Saturday night is going to "stick in our hearts." The Vandals, searching for their first victory in Logan since 2003, looked like they had the game won. They were by eight with four minutes to play -- and by three in the final second. But Preston Medlin sunk a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds to play and the Aggies ran off with a 82-75 win in overtime.
Idaho fell to 6-7 and 2-1 in the WAC. Like its games versus UTEP and Montana earlier in the season, this was a game UI should have had. "We had our chances," Verlin said, "but it’s just heartbreaking that we didn’t get out of here with a win, because we deserved that win."
More details below.
The common ingredients in Idaho's late-game collapses this season have been turnovers and defensive letdowns. The Vandals crumbled in the final few minutes of regulation at USU, just like they did after leading by 15 in the second half against Montana.
Still, a 2-1 road trip to the start the WAC season is a positive overall. That, and there are enough positives to build off from their lone league loss. Mike McChristian continues to play well, getting his first double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle Barone had his fourth straight double-double, though he was held to 13 points on 4 of 9 shooting. And Connor Hill led UI with 18 points.
Idaho is back in Moscow on Thursday (vs. Denver) and Saturday (vs. New Mexico State).
Here's UI's full release:
LOGAN, Utah – University of Idaho men’s basketball led by eight points with less than four minutes in regulation, but several key errors down the stretch let Utah State climb back and steal an 82-75 win in overtime on Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Looking for its first win at Utah State in a decade, Idaho found itself in an unfamiliar place at the Spectrum – leading by eight points with 3:38 to play – but two turnovers, three missed shots and key defensive miscues saw the Aggies close the gap on a Preston Medlin 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds to play.
In overtime, Idaho struck first to go up 71-69, but then Utah State went on a 9-1 run over the next three minutes to effectively put the game away.
With the loss, Idaho slips to 6-7 overall and 2-1 in Western Athletic Conference play, while the Aggies move to 13-1 overall and 4-0 in the WAC.
“It’s a game, with where we had it and how the last four or five minutes go, it’s obviously going to stick in our hearts,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said after the game. “We did a lot of good things, but when you’re up six with three (minutes) to go, it’s one you’d like to finish.”
Sophomore guard Connor Hill led Idaho with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while senior center Kyle Barone notched a double-double for a fourth-consecutive game with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but scored just five points after halftime. Senior guard Mike McChristian notched the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Utah State junior guard Preston Medlin led all players with 22 points and did most of his damage with 14 points in the final five minutes of regulation and beyond. Junior center Jarred Shaw had 12 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out early in overtime.
As a team, Idaho shot 48.3 percent from the floor (29-60) and 33.3 percent from 3-point range (8-24). The Vandals entered the game as one of the better free throw shooting teams in the conference, but hit just nine of 18 attempts for a season-low-tying 50 percent clip.
Utah State finished the game shooting 27-of-65 (.415) overall, 4-of-16 (.250) from 3-point range and 24-of-33 (.727) from 3-point range. The Aggies also held a 46-36 rebounding edge, including 20 offensive rebounds that turned into 22 second-chance points. USU also held a 17-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Verlin said that despite the setbacks, whether they were USU offensive rebounds or turnovers, he was proud of how his team battled and had itself in a position to win the game before Medlin’s last-second 3-pointer.
“We didn’t execute like we were supposed to on that last play. They got done what they needed to, made that shot and they were able to get us in overtime,” Verlin said. “We had our chances, but it’s just heartbreaking that we didn’t get out of here with a win, because we deserved that win.”
After playing its first three WAC games on the road, Idaho returns home to Moscow next week, where it will face conference newcomer Denver on Thursday and New Mexico State on Saturday. The Pioneers (6-7, 2-1 WAC) host UTSA on Sunday, while the Aggies (8-8, 2-2 WAC) defeated Texas State at home on Saturday by a 78-67 margin.
Both games tip off at 7:05 p.m. (PT) at the Cowan Spectrum.
- Saturday was the 50th meeting in series history between Utah State and Idaho, but it was the first overtime game between the two teams.
- Mike McChristian’s 11 points and 10 rebounds (career high) make him the third Vandal to tally a double-double this season. It was the first double-double of his career.
This is the fourth time in Don Verlin’s five seasons at Idaho that the Vandal men have started WAC play 2-1 through three games.