It isn’t like Avery Curry needs much help on the offensive end. He’s been responsible for 45 percent of Idaho’s points the last three games.
But he finally got some assistance on Saturday night and that, combined with the Vandals’ dominating rebounding and typically sticky defense, led to an intense 72-67 victory over Boise State before a season-high crowd of 4,317 in the Kibbie Dome.
“We had to dig down for that one,” said Curry, who established a new season high with 32 points, 10 as the Vandals wiped out a 62-57 deficit in the last 4 minutes.
“Our bench came off and did the job. That was the difference.”
Yes and no. Curry was the difference as Idaho (10-8 overall) snagged a much-needed win that evened its Big West mark at 4-4 and ended a four-game conference losing streak.
But Curry was accurate in that it took key contributions from Josh Toal, among others, to drop BSU to 12-9, 4-4.
Toal swished a 3-pointer from the right wing that moved Idaho on top 64-62. The bucket came after Clifford Gray hustled for a rebound save to Curry.
“It was hectic,” said Toal, who made four foul shots in the final 5 minutes. “That was probably the biggest shot of my career so far.”
Idaho made 21 of its last 22 free throws, including its final 10. Curry bagged four straight to give Idaho a 70-64 lead before Gerry Washington answered with a 3-pointer with 8.7 ticks left.
Toal’s two free throws ended a fiercely fought game.
“The physicalness of the rivalry doesn’t allow for a lot of flow,” UI coach Dave Farrar said. “Our kids obviously busted their tails and worked through a not-so-good offensive day.”
Other than Curry, that is. He simply had to work through a painful evening. He was hit below the belt in the first half by a BSU player. In the second half, he left briefly with a bloody nose and was struck by the basketball in, shall we say, a tender spot.
“I kept getting hurt all night,” said Curry, whose only blemish was seven turnovers.
The Vandals hurt themselves late in the first half, turning a 33-21 lead into a 33-30 halftime edge with four turnovers and four fouls in the last 1:34.
Curry had just gone to the bench with his second foul. Idaho tried Kris Baumann, Toal and Adam Miller at point guard, but all committed costly mistakes.
BSU continued its charge, bolting in front 52-45 with 8 minutes remaining. Sparked by Washington, who finished 14 of 14 at the foul line, and Roberto Bergersen (23 points), BSU seemed to be in command as UI was mired with turnovers.
But Toal and Curry finally responded, and Curry’s 3-pointer turned up the volume from an already lively crowd.
“I thought we didn’t handle our own success maybe,” BSU coach Rod Jensen said. “We put ourselves in a position there and then we fouled them four straight times.”
Gray had nine rebounds, a category UI controlled 39-22. Mao Tosi chipped in five assists and five rebounds and rugged defense in the paint. Cameron Banks scored 12 points.
The Vandals entertain North Texas on Thursday and New Mexico State on Saturday.
Idaho 72, Boise St. 67
Boise State - Bergersen 10-19 1-3 23, Tolman 2-8 4-6 9, Tillman 2-7 1-2 5, Washington 1-6 14-14 17, Shephard 1-1 2-2 4, Flanagan 1-4 1-2 3, Woods 0-2 2-2 2, Hagman 0-2 0-0 0, Van Kirk 1-1 2-2 4. Totals 18-50 27-33 67.
Idaho - Gray 1-4 4-4 6, Banks 5-8 1-2 12, Tosi 0-1 0-0 0, Baumannn 2-4 0-0 5, Curry 8-15 13-16 32, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Toal 2-3 8-8 13, Thompson 1-5 0-0 2, Byrne 1-1 0-0 2, Hampton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-42 26-30 72.
Halftime - Idaho 33, Boise State 30. 3-point goals - Boise State 4-14 (Bergersen 2-4, Washington 1-3, Tolman 1-4, Hagman 0-1, Flanagan 0-2), Idaho 6-9 (Curry 3-4, Banks 1-1, Toal 1-1, Baumann 1-3). Fouled out - Washington. Rebounds - Boise State 22 (Tolman 8), Idaho 39 (Gray 9). Assists - Boise State 11 (Bergersen, Washington 3), Idaho 12 (Tosi 5). Total fouls - Boise State 24, Idaho 23. Technicals - None. A - NA.