For much of Saturday night, Seattle U's Isiah Umipig was magnificent and Idaho's Stephen Madison was in foul trouble.
The duel between the WAC's top two scorers never really materialized in the Vandals' 76-68 loss to Seattle U at Key Arena. Madison finished with a quiet 18 points in 21 minutes after sitting for long stretches of both halves. That was half of the scoring total for Umipig, who drained eight 3-pointers and set a career high with 36 points.
Umipig had 23 points in the second half, when the Vandals (12-17, 5-9) struggled to get stops and looked disjointed on offense with Madison out of sync and Connor Hill quiet after playing superbly earlier in the game. Hill finished with 18 points but didn't score after his 3-pointer put Idaho up 48-45 with 15:29 left. Two possessions later, Seattle U took the lead and never trailed again.
The Redhawks completed a sweep of the Vandals in large part because of Umipig and yeoman's work on the boards. Seattle U got 16 offensive rebounds and had 18 more field goal attempts than Idaho.
“Obviously it’s frustrating because they kicked our tail on the boards tonight,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “That’s the difference in the game. They got 18 more shots than we did and that’s the difference in the game. It’s pretty simple.”
Idaho wraps up the regular season with games at Chicago State and Missouri-Kansas City next week. With the WAC tournament after that, the Vandals have a chance to finish with 20 losses for the first time since 2007-08 -- the last season before Verlin took over. They were 12-18 a year ago.
Here's a full recap from Idaho:
SEATTLE – Seattle U used a 36-28 rebounding advantage to pick up a 76-68 victory over Idaho in men’s basketball action Saturday night in Key Arena.
The Vandals out-shot the Redhawks 52.4 percent to 43.3 percent, but Seattle U took 18 more shots than the Vandals to make up for the shooting deficit. The Redhawks outscored Idaho 19-10 in second-chance points with a 16-8 advantage in offensive rebounds.
“Obviously it’s frustrating because they kicked our tail on the boards tonight,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “That’s the difference in the game. They got 18 more shots than we did and that’s the difference in the game, it’s pretty simple.”
The Vandals drop to 12-17 overall and 5-9 in the Western Athletic Conference with the loss, while Seattle U jumps to 13-14 and 5-9 in the WAC.
Idaho’s Stephen Madison and Connor Hill each scored 18 points but Madison was in foul trouble most of the game, playing just 21 minutes in the game.
“It always affects you when your best player, the five-time WAC Player of the Week, gets in foul trouble, but it is what it is,” Verlin said. “We have to learn to play without Stephen Madison in the lineup. It was a big part of it but we’ve got to respond to that.”
Seattle U’s Isiah Umipig scored 36 points in 12-of-22 shooting including 8-for-18 from 3-point range.
“We gave him way too many open looks in the first half, we were just fortunate they didn’t go in,” Verlin said of Umipig’s 3-of-11 3-point performance before halftime. “We tried all week to deny him the ball. I was disappointed in our defense tonight. One of our keys to winning was to run him off the 3-point line and he got 18 3-point shots tonight.”
The Vandals return to action for their final two regular season games next week, visiting Chicago State on Mar. 6 and Kansas City on Mar. 8. The Western Athletic Conference tournament is Mar. 13-16 in Las Vegas, Nev.