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Portland Pilots down Vandals

MOSCOW, Idaho – There were moments Saturday night when the many new faces on the Idaho men’s basketball team appeared to be meshing just how coach Don Verlin envisioned before the season.

But those stretches were too brief and too rare to go blow-for-blow with the University of Portland, which scooted past the Vandals 66-53 at Memorial Gym.

The Vandals (1-2) led by six points late in the first half in front of a Thanksgiving break crowd of 598. The brief advantage, however, was lost after a string of defensive breakdowns, turnovers and hot shooting from the Pilots (4-1) to start the second half.

Idaho is introducing four new starters and three other newcomers into the rotation. The growing pains with the turned-over roster were evident against Portland, and Verlin afterward acknowledged he’s still in the feeling-out phase with his club.

“I’m learning more about this team everyday,” the third-year coach said. “It’s a brand new team, and I’ve got to continue to learn. Obviously, very disappointed in the loss, but we’ve just got to go back to the film room and keep grinding.”

For a good portion of the first half, Portland – playing its second game in two nights – appeared to be feeling the aftereffects of a wipeout loss to Kentucky. The Pilots went nearly 6 minutes without a point while Idaho crafted a 10-0 run, led by strong play on both ends from Luiz Toledo.

The Pilots, however, scored the final three points before halftime and started the second half by draining 5 of 6 3-pointers – and 8 of 9 from the field – in what turned out to be the key stretch of the nonconference game.

“They came out of the gates firing,” senior Brandon Wiley said. “We didn’t make the stops we needed, so they came out the second half and made a big run. It took us a while to come back and respond, and by that time it was too late.”

Portland’s 26-12 outburst in the opening minutes of the second half was fueled by Jared Stohl, who punctuated Portland’s torrid stretch by hitting a falling-away 3-pointer. The senior guard from Marysville, Wash, had a game-high 16 points.

Verlin: Parker quit on own

North Idaho College transfer Renaldo Parker quit the Idaho program last week on his own accord, Verlin announced.

Parker did not not play in the regular season.

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