MOSCOW, Idaho – The Northern Arizona bench found something eccentric about the manner Victor Sanders kept drawing fouls on 3-point attempts.
By the time Sanders got fouled for the third time shooting a 3, Lumberjacks coach Jack Murphy had to verbally let the officials know the Idaho sophomore guard was asking for it by kicking his feet out to draw the fouls.
Sanders laughed it off. That’s just how he shoots.
“He kept saying I was kicking my leg out. If you ask anybody on our team in practice, that’s how I shoot,” Sanders said. “If you know I shoot that way, stop running into me.”
You can’t blame Northern Arizona defenders for doing whatever it took to keep Sanders from releasing the ball. He poured in a career-high 33 points, leading Idaho past NAU 83-76 in Big Sky Conference play Thursday night at the Cowan Spectrum.
An announced attendance of 1,138 bore witness to Sanders’ multifaceted scoring ability. In addition to converting 11 times from the charity stripe, he sank 4 3-pointers and slammed down two dunks.
“One thing I’ve been talking to Vic a lot about is stepping up your game but doing it with a little more discipline, tightening up your game a little bit. I thought he did that tonight,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “His shot selection was awesome, I don’t remember him even taking a bad shot.”
He even did it on defense. Two blocks in the final 40 seconds put an end to NAU’s furious comeback attempt. Having led by 20 with 3:51 left in the game, Idaho’s lead shriveled to as little as five with 13 seconds left.
Sanders two-hand swat of Kris Yanku with five seconds left put to rest any doubts of victory. He finished with three blocks and three steals.
“I thought our guys played good for 35 minutes, thought we were moving, we just didn’t finish it the way we want to,” Verlin said. “That’s what I told them (in the locker room), if you want to be a championship level team, every possession out there matters.”
Sanders timed his offensively explosion well, as it coincided with leading scorer Perrion Callandret missing his first game with a foot injury he suffered in the loss to Eastern Washington. The junior point guard trudged onto the court prior to the game with in track pants covering up the boot on his right foot.
His injury hasn’t been diagnosed yet after MRIs and X-Rays, but he’s expected to miss Saturday’s game against Southern Utah.
“They really can’t find it exactly what’s wrong with it but he’s still got some pain, still has some swelling in it. It’s going to take some time,” Verlin said.
Former Gonzaga Prep star Chris Sarbaugh received the nod at point guard in his stead, dishing out eight assists and swiping three steals.
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