ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

SportsLink

Idaho finally wins at home in close game

Teams are supposed to have a big advantage at home, but that hadn't been the case for Idaho at Cowan Spectrum. In five games before tonight — three played without students in Moscow — the Vandals had lost five times. Yep, 0-5. But they made a string of winning plays down the stretch to dispatch Cal State Bakersfield 64-61.

An early version of our game story, and a few notes, are below after the jump.


******

  • Glen Dean missed his second straight game with an ankle sprain. He suited up tonight but was hobbling noticeably. Coach Don Verlin said he was day-to-day.
  • Sekou Wiggs (knee) saw his first action since Jan. 9 at Texas-Pan American. He played only two minutes and was “obviously rusty” after not playing or practicing much for the last 10 days, Verlin said.
  • With Dean and Wiggs hurt, and Stephen Madison not 100 percent after taking a blow to the ribs on Thursday, the Vandals didn't practice on Friday. They had a long film session and a team meeting, but Verlin didn't want to take the court “with a bunch of players nicked up.” Guard Connor Hill said the day off from practice was much-needed.
  • The Vandals play three of their next four at home. They have just one game left in January — Thursday at Grand Canyon.

By Josh Wright
 Correspondent

MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho Vandals made their free throws in the final seconds, and they won.

It sounds simplistic, and it is. But after being haunted for the past month at the foul line, the Vandals earned a 64-61 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday night with a 6-for-6 closing stretch from the stripe.

Mike Scott swished two free throws with 3 seconds left, and Issiah Grayson's 60-foot heave at the buzzer missed the mark to give the short-handed Vandals (8-12, 2-4 WAC) their first win at Cowan Spectrum this season.

Idaho had been 0-5 at the Spectrum, its primary basketball venue, with the losses coming by an average of three points. But in front of 1,414 fans, UI erased a seven-point deficit with a 3-point barrage from Connor Hill and Scott and forced two late turnovers that proved critical.

The tight victory should give the Vandals a shot of confidence, especially after dropping four painful games at home since late December.

“Oh, man. It’s huge,” said Hill, who had 16 points and drained four 3-pointers. “It felt like we could not pull one off for the longest time, and we were right there in everyone and we just kept losing at the end.”

Scott, a junior-college transfer who chose Idaho over Bakersfield, started at point guard in place of the injured Glen Dean (ankle) and dropped in a career-high 20 points. The 6-foot-1 junior had six assists and just two turnovers.

Without Dean, the Vandals got 56 of their 64 points from Scott, Hill and Stephen Madison, who went 10 of 14 from the line and finished with 20 points.

“I thought Mike Scott played a great game,” UI coach Don Verlin said. “He was recruited by Bakersfield. Came down to us and Bakersfield. I’m glad he (chose) Idaho. … I thought he stepped up and played remarkably well the last two games.”

In the first 10 minutes, the Vandals were as efficient as they've been all year. Led by Scott and Hill, Idaho roared to a 22-7 lead midway through the first half after stringing together a 17-1 run.

Scott and Hill combined for the Vandals' first 15 points of the game, and Bakersfield came up empty on eight straight possessions.

But the game quickly turned. The Roadrunners (8-10, 1-3) became the more aggressive team offensively and unleashed a 13-0 answer to the Vandals' big spree.

The biggest difference to Verlin: The Vandals stopped pushing the ball up the court and getting transition buckets. With their offense sluggish, they trailed 48-41 midway through the second half before Hill and Scott combined for three triples during a 14-5 push to give UI the lead.

Then came a back-and-forth finish, and several clutch plays (and free throws) by Idaho.

Asked what it took to close out a tense game, Scott said, “It took belief, and it took energy.”

 


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to SportsLink

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

Filter










Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on SportsLink.

Contributors

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.

Recent work by Jim

Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

Recent work by Jim

Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

Recent work by Chris

Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here