Idaho finally got it going at Cowan Spectrum — just in time to say goodbye for the year to its primary home venue. After upsetting New Mexico State on Thursday, the Vandals gutted out a 70-63 overtime win over Texas-Pan American to collect back-to-back WAC wins for the first time this year.
Idaho is now 10-14 and 4-6 in the conference, which puts them in sixth place and a half-game behind Missouri-Kansas City. The Vandals finish the regular season with five of seven on the road, and their final two at home will be at Memorial Gym with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest in the Kibbie Dome.
The last crowd at the Spectrum was one of the best of the year — an announced 1,717. Our unedited game story is below.
By Josh Wright
MOSCOW, Idaho – After the final game of his career at Cowan Spectrum, a satisfying 70-63 win over Texas-Pan American in overtime, Stephen Madison was asked for his favorite memories of playing on Idaho's homecourt.
“Oh, there's a lot,” he said.
The accomplished Idaho senior talked about upending nationally ranked Utah State his freshman year on ESPN2. And then he realized that, on the spot, it was too difficult to recall all the good memories.
It seems likely that what happened on Saturday night will rank high on Madison's list when he's had time to let it settle in.
Madison forced overtime by splashing in a 3-pointer with 10.3 seconds left and hit another long-range shot in the extra period to help the Vandals outlast UTPA.
Idaho (10-14, 4-6) won back-to-back WAC games for the first time this season, and it did so despite going nearly 8 minutes in the first half without a point and missing its first 12 3-point attempts.
“That's probably as big of one that I can remember him making,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said of Madison's shot at the end of regulation.
The Vandals were 1 of 19 from long range when Madison took a handoff from Glen Dean for the game-tying 3. He finished with 22 points – his third straight game with at least 20 – and 13 rebounds.
Idaho's last two home games of the regular season will be in Memorial Gym because of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, so this was the final time Madison and the team's seniors played at the Spectrum.
Not that Madison fully realized it leading up to the game.
“I totally forgot,” he said. “I didn’t think about it during the game, or to be honest, before.”
The enduring image of playing at home this season for the Vandals will be a string of gut-punching losses. But the final moment — and the final weekend – turned out sweet.
Idaho upset New Mexico State on Thursday before shaking off a miserable offensive performance for much of Saturday night. On top of its futility beyond the arc, Idaho had a season-high 21 turnovers, and many of them were self-inflicted mistakes.
“What I was happy about was we found a way,” Verlin said. “We weren’t as sharp as maybe we should have been, but we did some really good things.”
The Vandals outrebounded the Broncs 50-32, and they made 4 of 5 shots in overtime. One of those was a deep 3 from Connor Hill that turned into a four-point play when he was fouled.
“I was just really glad the ball went in the hoop,” said Hill, who was 2 of 13 from the field. “Really struggled tonight, but it was kind of what we needed at that time and I was kind of glad to make at least one play.”