MOSCOW, Idaho - The pace of the game had stabilized after a manic opening stretch, and Seattle University had squandered its once-cushy lead. In the waning moments, all Idaho needed was a clutch shot.
Deremy Geiger delivered.
The senior guard buried a 3-pointer from the corner with 1 minute, 24 seconds left – the final points for either team in Idaho’s 70-69 nonconference men’s basketball victory over Seattle U on Tuesday night.
Down by 17 points in the first half, the Vandals (13-11) muscled their way back to pocket the largest come-from-behind victory in Don Verlin’s four seasons as head coach. They beat the Redhawks (6-14) by 11 in Seattle in December, but this one – in front of just 803 fans at Cowan Spectrum – proved much more dramatic.
After Geiger’s decisive 3, the Vandals got back-to-back stops. But Kyle Barone stepped out of bounds on the baseline on one possession and Landon Tatum clanked the front end of a 1-and-1 situation with 16.3 seconds left, giving SU the ball down by one.
The Vandals, with only three team fouls to that point, then fouled Seattle U ballhandlers threes times before Aaron Broussard’s 17-foot jumper at the buzzer sailed long. Broussard was guarded ably by Stephen Madison.
“We figured that’s where they were going,” Verlin said. “… Stephen did a great job. He didn’t foul him. I thought he made him hit a tough shot. Obviously, your hearts racing because it’s the last shot – you’re going to win or lose on that shot – but I thought we executed that part of the game pretty well.”
Idaho was coming off a road upset of WAC leader Nevada last weekend, and it looked frazzled and lethargic for much of the first half Tuesday. Seattle U’s full-court pressure had a lot to do with the lack of energy.
The Vandals several times had trouble getting the ball past midcourt and they didn’t take advantage of easy looks in the open court. They also made just 2 of 10 free throws in the first half.
The Redhawks capitalized on UI’s shaky play to take a 38-21 lead with 6:46 left before halftime. The large cushion was built on a 3-point shooting tear from Sterling Carter and Broussard.
Carter connected on four long-range shots in the first half and Broussard had three to pace the Redhawks, who will join the WAC this summer.
“Just coming out of the locker room I felt in the first half we were a little flat,” said Barone, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds. “I think we needed to come out in the second half and go after them real quick and get a few baskets …”
Barone and Madison fueled a 16-4 scoring spurt to start the second half, helping UI pull even at 49-all. Madison then cut to the basket and took a feed from Geiger for a layup to give the Vandals their first lead, 52-51, with 12:12 left.
Seattle U, after shooting 50 percent from the field and 3-point line in the first half, cooled considerably. It made just nine field goals in the second half, and none after Chris Rasmussen’s 3 with 3:21 left.
“I think we didn’t come out with the intensity we needed in the first half,” said Verlin, whose team hosts New Mexico State on Thursday night in a key WAC contest.
“But I thought we made up for it in the second half.”