In lieu of the clutch shot he's so used to making, Perrion Callandret came up in the clutch on the defensive end on Thursday night at North Dakota.
Up three with under five seconds left, North Dakota found Adam McDermott seemingly wide open in the corner for a game-tying 3-point attempt. That is until Callandret came flying in to block the shot out of bounds. North Dakota inbounded the ball with two seconds remaining, Quinton Hooker rimmed off a desperation 3-pointer and Idaho escaped Grand Forks with a 74-71 win in its Big Sky Conference opener.
Callandret led the way with 21 points, but struggled from the field shooting 7 of 18. Instead, it was sophomore walk-on Chad Sherwood who came up big off the bench with 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including going 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. More importantly may be that Sherwood entered Thursday night ninth in the Big Sky in turnover percentage but only turned the ball over once while dishing out three assists and grabbing a steal.
Freshman Nick Blair also came off the bench and scored five minutes and dished an assist in five minutes, giving Idaho a second-half lead with a 5-0 run.
“I thought we had a number of guys come off the bench and play well, especially Nick Blair,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “I thought some guys stepped up and played very well. I thought Chad Sherwood was aggressive early and made some shots.”
Sherwood's contributions were particularly important considering sophomore Victor Sanders struggled quite a bit. Sanders' first points came at the 4:51 mark in the second half, a 3 to give Idaho the lead. He turned the ball over a season-high seven times.
Senior guard Chris Sarbaugh, who led the Big Sky in turnover percentage, didn't turn it over once while dishing out two assists.
The Vandals went 1-8 on the road in conference play last season and will have an opportunity to top that mark this year when they travel to Northern Colorado on Saturday. The Bears disposed of Eastern Washington 96-90 on Thursday night.