BOISE – Evan Leonard scored a career-high 20 points, Jonathan Galloway grabbed 13 rebounds, and UC Irvine pulled away late to beat Idaho 67-59 before a crowd of more than 4,000 in Thursday night’s Holiday Hoops Classic at CenturyLink Arena.
Idaho’s Nate Sherwood tied it at 52 with a layup with 5:03 to go, but Leonard scored four straight points, Tommy Rutherford added a layup and UCI led 61-53 with 2:12 to play after a 7-0 run. Victor Sanders hit a 3 and Idaho closed to 63-59 with 37 seconds left, but Leonard and Max Hazzard made two free throws apiece to seal it.
John Edgar Jr. and Eyassu Worku scored 12 points apiece for the Anteaters (5-10), who ended a five-game skid.
Leonard is the first Anteater to score 20 points this season.
Both teams shot 36 percent from the floor (22 of 61), but the Anteaters made 17 free throws to Idaho’s seven and got 13 second-chance points off of 10 offensive rebounds.
Sanders scored 17 points, Brayon Blake had 11 with 13 rebounds, and Perrion Callandret scored 10 for Idaho (8-4), which trailed 34-28 at halftime.
Idaho finishes the early season at 8-4, tying for the most early season wins since Don Verlin took over. Idaho also had eight early season wins in the 2015-16 season, when the team would go on to finish 21-13, the best record in more than two decades.
Idaho opens Big Sky Conference play at North Dakota on Nov. 29.