North Idaho College could be excused for being rusty in its first game after a three-week holiday break.
Strangely, the Cardinals seemed sharp at the outset as they hit their first three shots and took a quick eight-point lead. That lead didn’t last long as Snow College roared back and handled NIC 89-73 in Scenic West Athletic Conference men’s basketball Thursday at Christianson Gym.
NIC’s blistering start might have been more of a curse than a blessing. The Cardinals made three 3-pointers early and seemed content to settle for perimeter jumpers for most of the half. When they didn’t fall, NIC’s production dried up.
“We just had bad shot selection,” NIC interim head coach Jared Phay said. “There are a few guys trying too hard. They’re not necessarily being selfish, but we’re trying to get it more structured.”
NIC slipped to 9-7 overall, 1-3 in the SWAC. Eastern Utah visits NIC at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Snow, the defending regular season co-champions, improved to 12-3, 2-2.
The Badgers ran their patterned offense crisply and had little trouble finding holes in NIC’s defense. Snow shot 52.7 percent for the game, including 61.5 percent in the first half. The Badgers also had twice as many free throws as NIC (37-18), including 26 attempts in a foul-plagued second half.
“They were pressuring us pretty well early so we decided to spread them out and we got some easy baskets,” Snow coach Jon Judkins said.
Snow erased NIC’s 8-0 lead with an impressive 24-3 spurt. Near the end of that run, NIC called timeout and Phay reprimanded his team for playing “soft.” The Cards returned to the floor and Phay was forced to call another timeout when his team couldn’t solve Snow’s press.
After that timeout, NIC immediately turned over the ball and Snow converted with a three-point play.
“They’ve got some smart players and they did the right things at the right time,” NIC forward Harry Disy said of Snow.
After trailing by as many as 18, NIC used a late 11-2 run to narrow the gap to 43-34 at half. Foluke Tobin hit a 15-foot jumper and Joseph Powell made a bank shot following a Snow turnover. After another Snow turnover, NIC had the ball out of bounds with 1 second remaining. Shea Bradshaw got open in the corner and hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
That momentum didn’t carry over to the second half as Snow scored the first five points and would have taken a bigger lead if not for four consecutive misses at the free-throw line.
Disy and forward Darin Nagle provided some interior scoring as NIC whittled Snow’s lead to seven on four occasions. Each time, the Badgers countered, scoring 10 unanswered points to take a 68-51 lead with 8:35 left.
NIC attempted 31 3-pointers, making nine. The Cardinals also were outrebounded 41-32.
Phay had a lengthy postgame chat with his team.
“We’re really just focusing on the positives,” he said. “Our confidence is down and it’s kind of easy to hang our heads, but if we’re going to keep getting better we’ve got to focus on the things we did well.”
Tobin led NIC with 16 points. Nagle, who re-injured the same ankle he sprained in the season opener, added 13 and Disy 10.
SWAC Snow 89, North Idaho 73
Snow–Shelly 3-7 8-8 16, Henry 8-14 6-10 22, Murdock 2-6 1-2 6, Elseth 6-10 0-0 12, Winters 1-4, 2-4 4, Jeffs 0-0 0-0 0, Hawkins 1-2 2-5 4, Hawkins 1-2 2-5 4, Nielsen 6-9 0-0 14, Patch 0-0 2-3 2, Clark 2-3 5-5 9. Totals 29-55 26-37 89.
North Idaho–Bradshaw 3-11 0-0 9, Tobin 5-9 6-8 16, Donald 2-5 0-0 5, Disy 4-8, 2-4 10, Nagle 5-10 0-1 13, Powell 2-3 0-0 4, Deswood 2-3 0-0 4, Lincoln 1-3 0-1 2, Deshazer 0-0 0-0 0, Cobbley 1-3 0-0, 2, Collins 2-8, 2-4 7, Brousseau 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-63 10-18 73.
Halftime–Snow 43, NIC 34. 3-point goals–Snow 5-13 (Shelley 2-6, Henry 0-3, Murdock 1-1, Nielsen 2-2, Clark 0-1). NIC 9-31 (Bradshaw 3-10, Tobin 0-3, Donald 1-2, Nagel 3-8, Powell 0-1, Deswood 1-2, Lincoln 0-1, Collins 2-4). Assists–Snow 22 (Shelley 9), NIC 15 (Powell 5). Rebounds–Snow 41 (Henry 8), NIC 32 (Nagle 8). Totals fouls–Snow 18, NIC 23. Fouled out–Winters, Donald.
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