MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho ran away from an outclassed Southwest Assemblies of God American Indian College 84-55 on Saturday.
But the Vandals needed a timely 16-2 run early in the second half to put appreciable distance between themselves and the Warriors.
With the win, Idaho improved to 3-8. The Warriors fell to 0-7.
Idaho was physically more imposing in every way, but the Vandals took their time about using their advantages. In the first half, the Vandals were not winning with quickness or size. It seemed like it was difficult for them to focus despite the visitors having no players taller than 6-foot-6.
“It’s human nature,” Idaho coach Zac Claus said of the lack of engagement among his players early on. “At the same time, you’d like to see them realize they only get to do this so many times as college basketball players.”
Idaho’s Gabe Quinnett, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half , said the Vandals needed to re-examine after taking a 39-31 lead into halftime.
“… in the locker room, we were all fired up,” Quinnett said. “We knew we could play better. We were not executing our game plan. Coach kind of got into us.”
Claus attributed the burst of productivity in the second half to getting 10 stops on 11 possessions.
“We did a better job pushing it in transition, and we did a better job getting quality shots,” Claus said.
The Vandals began to find Quinnett in rhythm, and he finished 5 for 7 on 2-pointers. After he hit four 3s in a row, the crowd audibly groaned when his next attempt went around the rim and out.
The Warriors, won lost to Montana 118-49 on Dec. 14, had their problems keeping up with Idaho in the second half. But in the first half, they came to play.
“I give them credit for making shots and pushing us,” Claus said.
The Warriors’ leading scorer, Dane Maggi, scored a game-high 19 points. One of his possessions characterized what the Warriors brought to the game early. He stole a lazy Vandals pass, missed a solo break, but grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to cut Idaho’s lead to 13-12.
Mikey Dixon paced the Vandals with 16 points. Tanner Christensen followed Quinnett with a 12 points, and Trevante Anderson also finished in double figures with 10 points.
At 6-1, Anderson matched 6-11 Christensen with eight rebounds to lead the team, and he had eight of Idaho’s 20 assists.
Idaho was without its ferocious shot blocker, Philip Pepple, who was ill, according to Claus, and the smaller Warriors were able to swat five of Idaho’s shots. Nineteen turnovers, including giving up 11 steals, also could not have pleased Claus.
But the Vandals, in the second half, were able to wear out the Warriors with their depth, outscoring them 45-24. For the game, Idaho knocked down 42 points on bench scoring for only 17 for SAGU.
“It was nice to see Gabe knock down some shots,” Claus added, and of Idaho’s 14 of 37 three-point shooting “I’ll take that all the time,” he said.
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