Stephen Madison will go down as one of the best scorers in Idaho history. And Saturday night might very well go down as his masterpiece. Unfortunately for UI, it came in game with an all-too-familiar outcome — a one-point loss.
Madison, a 6-foot-6 senior from Portland, dropped in 42 points — the most for a Vandal since Orlando Lightfoot in 1993 — in a 89-88 setback at Utah Valley. The Vandals fell to 10-16 and 4-8 in the WAC despite Madison's career-best performance.
Before Saturday, Madison had made a strong case that he was the best player in the WAC. But his most convincing argument yet came against the WAC's leading team. He went 16 of 21 from the field, 8 of 11 from the free-throw line and missed just one shot from inside the arc.
Madison tied Steve Weist for the third-most points in a single game at Idaho, and he passed Kyle Barone for fourth all-time in scoring at UI with 1,440 points. The only Vandals in front of him are Lightfoot (2,102), Brian Kellerman (1,585) and Kenny Luckett (1,571).
We have more on Madison and Idaho below.
In Don Verlin's six years at Idaho, you can argue he hasn't had two better players than Madison and Barone, who was the WAC Player of the Year last year as a senior. With Barone a dominant force in the post and Madison providing a solid 1-2 scoring threat, the Vandals went just 12-18 a year ago. This year with Madison leading the way (and no post presence to speak of but much better guards), Idaho has lost four one-point games and is tied for last in the WAC.
“Stephen played a whale of a game — it would have been nice to get a win,” Verlin said. “Stephen has put in a lot of time and effort to make Idaho the spot that it is. He’s worked hard on his basketball game and he’s going to graduate this spring. He’s done everything he’s supposed to do as a student-athlete and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Madison's final two home games will next week at Memorial Gym, as the Vandals host Cal State Northridge on Thursday at 7 and Grand Canyon at 1 p.m. Saturday. Both games are at Mem Gym with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival taking over the Kibbie Dome.
Here's the full recap from UI:
OREM, Utah – Stephen Madison poured in 42 points for the Idaho men’s basketball team, but Utah Valley hung on for an 89-88 victory on Saturday night, handing the Vandals their fourth one-point loss of the season.
Madison went 16-for-21 from the field, tying for second in Idaho history for field goals made in a game, and third for points in a game. He surpassed the 1,400 career-point plateau in the game and moved into fourth on Idaho’s career scoring list, passing former teammate Kyle Barone.
“Stephen played a whale of a game, it would have been nice to get a win,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “Stephen has put in a lot of time and effort to make Idaho the spot that it is. He’s worked hard on his basketball game and he’s going to graduate this spring. He’s done everything he’s supposed to do as a student-athlete and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Idaho (10-16, 4-8 WAC) shot a season-best 56 percent (33-of-59) from the field in the game but Utah Valley was even better, hitting 60 percent of its shots. The Vandals hit 8-of-12 first-half 3-pointers but went 0-for-9 from long range in the second half.
Idaho led 83-80 with less than four minutes to play, but the Wolverines used a 7-0 run to pull ahead 87-83 with 2:26 remaining. Madison cut that lead to 87-85 and after a pair of UVU free throws on the other end he made it a two-point game once again at 89-87. With the shot clock off, Idaho freshman Sekou Wiggs was fouled. He made the first free throw but was long on the second. Madison was able to corral the rebound but Glen Dean’s mid-range baseline jumper was off the mark and Connor Hill’s desperation 3 as time expired was also no good.
Despite the loss, Verlin was satisfied with his team’s spirit, scoring 88 points and shooting a season-high field goal percentage against the WAC-leader in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and 3-point defense.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Verlin said. “Tonight I’m going to applaud them. We gave unbelievable effort. I was on them pretty hard because I didn’t feel like we gave great effort at Bakersfield. You have to feel good about that. You never feel good about a loss but we’ve got to feel pretty good about our effort.”
Connor Hill sprinted out of the gates, connecting on his first four 3-point attempts and racking up 14 points in the game’s first six and a half minutes, but that from there his missed his final five 3-point attempts and didn’t add to his scoring total. Wiggs finished with 16 points, one shy of his career-high, going 7-for-9 from the field, but just 2-for-5 from the free throw line. Mike Scott added 10 points and five rebounds for Idaho.
Idaho finished with 16 assists and seven turnovers in the game, while converting nine UVU turnovers into 13 points. The Wolverines out-rebounded Idaho 30-26 but Idaho held an 11-10 edge in second chance points.
”Our ball moved tonight, that’s as good as it moves,” Verlin said. “We executed our offense. This system isn’t easy to run. We’ve had some pretty good offensive games in our last four games. Now, we didn’t defend it like we need to.”
The Vandals return home for their final two home games of the season next week, hosting CSU Northridge in a non-conference contest on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. before taking on Grand Canyon on Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. That game will be Senior Day for Idaho’s Madison, Dean and Joe Kammerer. Both games will be played in Idaho’s Memorial Gym