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Vandals men breeze to victory in first round of CIT

Don Verlin’s Idaho Vandals played the Oregon Ducks in an exhibition on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 in Eugene. The game was played to raise money for Red Cross wildfire relief efforts. (Lance Iversen / Associated Press)
Don Verlin’s Idaho Vandals played the Oregon Ducks in an exhibition on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 in Eugene. The game was played to raise money for Red Cross wildfire relief efforts. (Lance Iversen / Associated Press)

MOSCOW, Idaho – Their star point guard scored his fewest points since early December. Their home atmosphere – a crowd of 1,109 with students on spring break – was sleepy for much of Wednesday night.

But none of that mattered to the Idaho Vandals. Not on a night when they showcased a newfound balance up and down the roster.

The UI men’s basketball team bludgeoned Stephen F. Austin 73-50 at Memorial Gym in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

The Vandals (19-13) held the Lumberjacks (18-15) to 29 percent shooting in the second half to turn a tight game into a rout. They outscored SFA 24-8 over the last 13 minutes.

Idaho’s leading scoring Victor Sanders never looked like his 21.4-points-per-game self. He finished with 10 points on 2-of-10 shooting, but he paced UI with five assists – several to sharpshooter Chad Sherwood.

Sherwood, a junior guard, had a game-high 17 points, all but two of them from beyond the arc. His brother, Nate Sherwood, added 10 points and seven rebounds, and the Vandals got key contributions from bench players Pat Ingram, BJ Blake and Trevon Allen (19 combined points).

The Vandals led 49-42 midway through the second half before unleashing a 10-0 run. It started with an Ingram 3 in the corner on a nice feed from Nate Sherwood, and then Jordan Scott came up with the kind of hustle play – a putback layup after two errant 3-pointers – that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Idaho’s first five field goals after halftime were 3s, three of them from Chad Sherwood. The biggest outside shot, though, came from Allen.

With 8:40 left, the freshman point guard found himself alone on the left wing – so open that he hesitated before unfurling a triple that capped the Vandals’ surge and made it 59-42.

An on-campus game during spring break presents its own set of challenges. Idaho had no band, no cheerleaders – and no student section.

Early in the second half, with Idaho leading by five and the Lumberjacks looking like they were going to grab momentum, Mem Gym was almost completely silent. But Chad Sherwood sank a trey to break a nearly 8-minute spell for Idaho without a field goal, and the Vandals slowly took control.

Idaho bagged its first postseason win since beating UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the 2012 CIT. It’s second-round opponent will be determined in coming days.

Despite three points in the first half from Sanders, the Vandals’ lead swelled to 33-19 on a 3-pointer from Chad Sherwood. With Sanders quiet offensively, Idaho got a nice lift from its bench. Blake and Ingram scored nine quick points to kick-start the Vandals.

SFA, though, countered with a surge of its own before the half to regain some momentum. The Lumberjacks were led by TJ Holyfield’s 13 points.


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