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Portland buries Idaho early, rolls to win

Fans had barely settled into their seats at the Chiles Center on Thursday night when the University of Portland delivered the knockout blow against Idaho. The Pilots rattled off 17 unanswered points early in the first half and went on to a more-decisive-than-it-looked 88-74 victory in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Portland (2-2) led 21-4 after its big run, and after the Vandals cut the deficit to 10 points at the half, the Pilots roared back to go up by as many as 24. Idaho (2-2) shot just 38 percent from the floor and made only three field goals in the game's first 10 minutes.

UI continues play in the event with a game against North Texas on Friday at 4:30. It then plays Columbia on Saturday at 4:30. Columbia beat UNT 70-66 on Thursday night.


*****

Here's the full recap from Idaho media relations:

PORTLAND – Stephen Madison scored his 1,000th career point and Connor Hill climbed into fourth place on Idaho’s career 3-pointers made list, but the Vandals didn’t get the result they wanted in an 88-74 loss at Portland on Thursday night.

Madison finished with 19 points and added a team-high six rebounds in the game, going 8-for-9 from the free-throw line and 5-of-11 from the field. Madison is the 14th 1,000-point scorer in program history. Hill hit two 3-pointers in the first half to give him 142 in his career, breaking a fourth-place tie on Idaho’s career list.

The Vandals (2-2) struggled shooting the ball, hitting just 26-of-68 (38.2 percent) of their shots from the field and 7-of-19 3-pointers (36.8 percent). Meanwhile, Portland (2-2) shot 46.6 percent from the field, connecting on 27-of-58 shots. The Vandals committed 11 turnovers in the game, leading to 15 Portland points, and gave up a 41-36 rebounding advantage to the Pilots.

“They were the most aggressive team,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said after the game. “We made a couple breakdown errors and when that happened they were able to get some easy shots and baskets. They just beat the heck out of us in every phase of the game tonight.”

Idaho fell behind by 17 points after a 17-0 Portland run in the first half, but chipped away for the rest of the half to make it a 10-point, 41-31, deficit at the break. Idaho closed the gap to single digits early in the second half but the Pilots used another big run to extend the lead to as many as 24 points.

Portland attempted 38 free-throws in the game, and connected on 31 of them, while Idaho went 15-of-21 from the free throw line in the game.

“That’s what happens when you play on the road,” Verlin said of the free throw discrepancy.  “The way they’re calling this game, we kept stressing to our guys to be aggressive and create turnovers, but then we foul.”

The Vandals return to action on Friday when they take on North Texas at 4:30 (PT) as they continue the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

“This is a good North Texas team,” Verlin said. “We’re going to try to simplify the game plan and get them to play better tomorrow.”


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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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