MOSCOW, Idaho – A second half in which they outplayed Southern Utah down the stretch left the Idaho Vandals frustrated as they absorbed a seventh straight loss, 75-64, on Monday night.
Idaho’s leading scorer, Cameron Tyson, typified the mood. He came back from a 1-of-5 effort on 3-point shots in the first half to bury 5 of 7 from the arc in the second for 15 of his 20 points.
“I’m always told to keep shooting,” he said. “But at the end of the day we didn’t come out with a win. So it didn’t really matter.”
In the closing four minutes, the Vandals reduced a 13-point deficit to eight with 2:45 to play on Trevon Allen’s basket, but this one truly looked like a game in which Idaho simply ran out of time.
“The positive thing I thought we did tonight is we responded at the half,” said Vandals coach Don Verlin. He noted the Thunderbirds cut up Idaho with 5-of-13 shooting from distance in the first half but they were limited to one 3-pointer in 10 tries after the break.
“We were pretty effective. We were just not able to get enough shots,” he said.
Verlin pointed to Idaho’s 15 turnovers against SUU, that included nine in the second half, as hampering the Vandals’ offense.
“It seems like I get one hole plugged, and out pops another one,” Verlin said. “The second half we did not do a good enough job of taking care of the basketball.”
SUU’s Andre Adams also got away from Idaho inside in the second half. He scored 12 of his 21 points after intermission and added a game-high 14 rebounds. He also forced Scott Blakney to pick up a fifth foul with a spin move with just over two minutes left.
“He played a whale of a game. He was a man in there,” Verlin said of Adams.
Idaho held Brandon Better to five points after he scored a career-high 35 points against Eastern Washington last Saturday. And Harrison Butler, distinctive in his retro thigh-high shorts, damaged the Vandals with 14 points and four steals, but he only scored two points in the second half.
Southern Utah made a bid to run away from the Vandals after intermission as Adams scored three successive baskets in the paint to put the Thunderbirds ahead 61-43 with 11:21 to play. The Vandals pulled within 63-52 at the 7:33 mark on back-to-back 3-pointers from Tyson. Allen hit two free throws with 30 seconds left to cut the deficit to nine, but the Vandals would get no closer before a sparse crowd of 634.
The Vandals fall to 4-17 overall and 1-9 in the Big Sky Conference. Southern Utah improves to 10-10 overall and 5-6 in conference play.
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