Chad Sherwood arrived at Idaho two years ago without the promise of playing time. He even came without a scholarship.
Lately, playing time has come easier for the sophomore. But on Saturday, the walk-on laid claim to his first career start.
Sherwood made coach Don Verlin's decision look smart, putting in 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting, 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, leading Idaho to a 75-70 win at Northern Colorado and moving Idaho to 10-5, 2-0 in Big Sky Conference play.
“I thought Chad played great,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “I thought our guys did a great job of finding him open shots. Chad’s a great shooter, he has worked really hard on his shooting. He can hit those shots and he did a great job of knocking them down tonight.”
Verlin shook up the starting lineup, replacing Victor Sanders with Sherwood and substituting Ty Egbert in for Nahshon George. Sanders and George featured off the bench. Sanders, reeling from a 7-turnover performance at North Dakota, shook off turning the ball over twice in his first six minutes on the floor and finished with 11 points and four assists.
Sherwood knocked in a couple of treys with under four minutes left in the contest to turn a 55-54 deficit into a 60-55 lead.
The Bears started fouling with the clock ticking under two minutes, continually putting Perrion Callandret on the line. The junior, who struggled by shooting 2 of 10 from the field, responded by swishing in 11 of his next 12 attempts for the line to finish with 18 points and keep Idaho unblemished in conference play.
“We kept being aggressive and got to the line. That was the difference in the game,” Verlin said. “We made our free throws, especially down the stretch. We only allowed them to get one shot. Defensive rebounding wins championships. I thought our defense was excellent in the first half, but it slipped a bit in the second half. Our defensive rebounding was great all night.”
Sherwood had difficulty finding his rhythm from beyond the arc prior to Big Sky play, shooting only 20 of 53 from 3, but has found his stroke the last two games with a 9-for-13 clip from downtown.
Jordan Scott gave Idaho 11 productive minutes off the bench, dishing out two assists and grabbing a couple of offensive rebounds.
Victor Sanders still played 24 minutes despite coming off of the bench but still ran into foul trouble and struggled shooting from the field, going 3 of 9 and 2 of 7 from 3-point range. Verlin didn't mention in his radio interview why he put the sophomore on the bench to start the game.
Idaho's next opponent, travel partner Eastern Washington, dropped both games of this road trip. The Eagles beat Idaho three times last season by a combined 14 points.
The Vandals are now 2-0 on the road in conference play after going 1-8 in Big Sky road games last season.