There are a multitude of ways to look at Idaho's latest road trip, which ended tonight with an 83-75 setback at Portland State.
It was more disappointment on the road. The Vandals are 0-7 away from the friendly rolling hills of the Palouse, including a "neutral" (not really) floor loss to Boise State at Centurylink Arena in Boise. Idaho's only road win came at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman against Washington State, eight miles away from their own campus.
It was a third consecutive conference loss, dropping Idaho to 2-3 in Big Sky Conference play. Just one week ago, Idaho was one Mike Scott 3-point shot from the corner away from sole possession of first place after three games. Now, Idaho is in the middle of the pack fighting to not be one of the four teams left out of the conference tournament.
It's a game where Idaho finally went more consistently to man-to-man defense to curb the 3-point defensive woes that's been ailing the Vandals against good shooting teams, holding the Vikings to 6-of-22 from beyond the arc.
But when one hole is plugged, another can pop open. The stat sheet showed a few discrepancies on Saturday night between these two teams, the glaring one being at the free throw line. Portland State scored 23 points at the line, Idaho scored 10. The Vikings won by 12, so, there's your difference.
Idaho coach Don Verlin keyed in on Idaho's abundance of turnovers and lack of offensive rebounds. The Vandals gave it away 14 times, gifting 19 points to the Vikings off of them.
"You turn it over once, you turn it over twice, it's one of those things," Verlin said. "We just have to firm up some details and get back to work on Monday. We knew this was going to be a tough road trip."
Verlin expressed annoyance with Idaho's ability to get only three offensive rebounds off 29 missed shots. Idaho only scored one second-chance point.
The loss dropped Idaho into a tie for eighth place with Southern Utah. The Vandals will host North Dakota (5-11, 1-4) and Northern Colorado (9-7, 4-1) at the Cowan Spectrum this week.
"It's a huge week for us. What we got to do is get back to fighting every single possession. We've lost three in a row, that's tough.Two of those three we felt like we could've won," Verlin said.
Verlin has a point. Idaho lost on potential game-tying shots at the buzzer to both Eastern Washington and Sacramento State, which both top the conference. That's the difference between 4-1 and first place and 2-3 and eighth place.
"I feel like this team is going to play at the top of this conference when we get some things firmed up," Verlin said.
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- Mike Scott recorded the first double-double of his career at Idaho, scoring 15 points and dishing 10 assists.
- Give it up to sophomore guard Perrion Callandret, who spelled Connor Hill when Hill ran into foul trouble. Callandret scored nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, 3-4 from deep.