It wasn’t the prettiest, and it took most of the second half to secure it, but Idaho earned its first victory in new ICCU Arena 95-85 against George Fox on Friday night.
“We’ll take it. I’m not apologizing for anything,” Vandals coach Zac Claus said. Idaho is now even at 1-1. The Bruins are 0-1.
The Vandals got out of the first half with a one-point lead, and the Bruins quickly erased that in the final period to gain a short-lived two-point advantage before Idaho picked up the pace, went on a run and eventually worked its way to an 83-67 lead with about 8 minutes to play. Still, the Bruins were able to reduce their deficit to 83-76 before fading in the final five minutes.
“We let them hang around and make the game difficult,” Claus said.
Idaho benefited from balanced scoring that saw six players in double figures, and the Vandals shot an impressive 70.5% from the field (31 of 44). That included 9 of 17 on 3-pointers.
George Fox did its best to make it a physical game, fouling 28 times. But Idaho was inconsistent at the free-throw line and hit just 24 of 39 attempts.
Trevante Anderson led all scorers with 22 points for Idaho. Nolan Bertain contributed 18 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Mikey Dixon scored 16 points, Philip Pepple Jr. 13, and Jemeil King and Yusef Salih had 11 apiece.
“I give us credit for sharing the ball and taking good shots,” Claus said.
At their best, the Vandals were simply too fast for the Bruins. In the first half, King drove, missed but secured the rebound and got the ball out to the perimeter, and after three quick passes he had the ball back in his hands in the lane, completely unguarded.
But George Fox pressed energetically throughout, and the Bruins forced the Vandals into 20 turnovers while committing just nine themselves, and they scored 22 points off Idaho miscues.
“That jumped off the page,” said Claus. “That might bug me as much as anything.”
James Moore and Momo Stokes led George Fox with 14 points apiece, and Kalu Stricklin, Davon Walker and Zac Schmerber each added 9.
George Fox put up 78 shots, but made only 33. The Bruins were 12 of 27 from beyond the arc.
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