Vandals pick up key road win over Nevada
RENO, Nev. – Jeff Ledbetter scored a team season-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers, as Idaho beat Nevada 67-59 on Thursday night.
Deremy Geiger scored 10 points, all in the second half, and sank two free throws for a 65-59 lead with 17 seconds left as the Vandals (16-11, 8-6) earned the important Western Athletic Conference road victory. The Vandals are in third place in conference standings with two games left in the regular season.
Shawn Henderson added 10 points for the Vandals, who hit 10 3-pointers overall and shot 67 percent from long range (10 of 15). Ledbetter hit 5 of 6.
The Vandals also held off Nevada by hitting 17 of 20 from the free-throw line.
Ledbetter’s 25 points were the most by a Vandal since Steffan Johnson’s 28 against Hawaii in the 2010 Senior Day game at the Cowan Spectrum.
Ledbetter scored 12 of Idaho’s first 14 points in the game as the Vandals jumped out to a 14-7 lead at the 13:18 mark of the first period.
“There was a lot riding on this game,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said. “We’ve got a few guys nicked up right now and we had a few guys playing hurt tonight, but I thought our guys did a great job of playing as a team and did everything they could to get a win.”
Deonte Burton scored 19 points to lead the Wolf Pack (11-16, 7-6). The point guard hit a 3-pointer to cut Idaho’s lead to 61-59 with 35 seconds to play. But two free throws by Ledbetter, Geiger’s foul shots and a basket by Henderson sealed it for Idaho.
Burton also had four assists.
Malik Story finished with 13 points for Nevada, Olek Czyz scored 11 and Dario Hunt grabbed 19 rebounds.
Only three Nevada players tallied more than six points and seven Wolf Pack players finished with two or fewer points.
“I thought our guys played extremely hard tonight,” Verlin said. “I thought they were extremely tough. We did just about everything we needed to do, except we didn’t rebound our ball well enough.”
Idaho swept the two-game series with Nevada for the first time in 12 years, winning 72-67 on Jan. 12 in Moscow, Idaho. Idaho has swept Nevada just four times in series history.
“Our coaches did a great job with this game plan. I thought our guys executed the game plan and I think we played this game at our pace all night long,” Verlin said.
Things don’t get any easier for the Vandals, as they’ll travel to Logan, Utah, to take on Utah State on Saturday.
The Aggies have clinched the outright WAC regular-season title, and their lone conference blemish came at the hands of Idaho on Feb. 9, 64-56 at the Cowan Spectrum.