GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Perrion Callandret blocked a shot with 2 seconds to play to seal the Idaho Vandals’ 74-71 victory over North Dakota in a Big Sky Conference opener on Thursday afternoon.
The Vandals defense was tremendous down the stretch, holding the Fighting Hawks without a field goal for the final 3-plus minutes.
“I thought we had a number of guys come off the bench and play well, especially Nick Blair,” said head coach Don Verlin. “I thought some guys stepped up and played very well. I thought Chad Sherwood was aggressive early and made some shots.”
After a back-and-forth stretch midway through the second half, the Vandals (9-5) reclaimed the lead with about 90 seconds to play. Chris Sarbaugh drove hard to the basket and hit an incredibly tough layup to give Idaho a 69-67 lead.
From there, Callandret and Victor Sanders hit a pair of free throws each to help seal the win.
Callandret finished with 21 points on the night, his third 20-point game of the season. The Vandals are 3-0 in those games.
Chad Sherwood had a solid night off the bench, scoring 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Ty Egbert also scored in double figures with 11 and led the Vandals with eight rebounds.
“What this team is built on is defense and rebounding, and we really didn’t take care on the defensive end, especially in the second half,” Verlin said. “There’s still more to work on.”
Callandret got out to a quick start, scoring seven of Idaho’s first nine points. The Vandals would close out the first half on an 8-2 run, taking a 34-28 lead into the break.
The Fighting Hawks (5-7) came out firing in the second half, going on a quick 13-5 run to take the lead at 41-39. Verlin then looked to his bench, bringing in freshman Nick Blair to help jumpstart the offense. The move worked wonders as Blair scored five straight points and had a nice assist on a dunk by Egbert, all in about one minute, to get the Vandals back on top.
The Vandals stay on the road and head to Northern Colorado on Saturday.
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