Idaho enjoyed a talent advantage against Walla Walla University on Thursday.
Idaho routed the Wolves 122-48 and in the process threatened the school’s scoring record of 127 points set against New Hope in the 2015-16 season.
With 11 minutes remaining Idaho was up 100-36. But Vandals’ coach Zac Claus said pursuing the record was never a factor.
“The biggest thing we talked about going into this game was having a defensive presence,” he said.
By the final 10 minutes the Wolves’ offense had collapsed into individual attempts to reach the hoop, and the WWU defense was virtually nonexistent. But Claus was more interested in keeping Idaho focused defensively than in scoring more points.
“You keep pushing them to maintain the discipline to guard. We did not want to back down on what we were trying to accomplish defensively,” he said.
Idaho forced 20 turnovers while committing only seven. The Vandals had 13 steals, led by Terren Frank with five.
At 6-foot-8, 229 pounds and with exceptional lateral quickness, “he has it in him to be an incredibly good defender,” Claus said of Frank.
With the rout the Vandals evened their record at 1-1. Walla Walla , a member of the NAIA’s Cascade Collegiate Conference, remained 0-1 as the Wolves treated the game as an exhibition.
Even by the close of the first half, Walla Walla found itself trailing 70-23 with 17 turnovers and 10 fouls, including two on its best scorer, Andrew Vaughan, whose nine points were about all the offense the Wolves could muster . He finished as the Wolves’ leading scorer with 14. As close as Walla Walla ever got beyond the opening minutes was 14-10 after Vaughan buried a shot from the corner.
“He went off on us and hit a couple of 3s,” said Frank.
The Vandals probably will not find a comparable mismatch the rest of the season, and the Vandals made the most of the opportunity. They shot 46 of 72 (63.9%) from the floor and hit 14 of 25 3-point attempts (56%) . About the only thing they did in less than exemplary fashion was shoot free throws. They converted just 16 of 28 (57.1%) .
Divant’e Moffitt, who had 10 assists for the Vandals, said while he was playing he was unaware Idaho was threatening its scoring record.
“I heard about that after the game,” he said. Playing in such an event “was electric.”
At halftime, as it became clear Walla Walla was overmatched, Claus, according to Moffitt, “presented the challenge … stay locked in.”
Franks expanded on that.
“Respect the game. Respect the opponent,” he said.
Frank led Idaho with 24 points to go with five steals. Isaac Jones followed with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Dominique Ford added 16 points, Nigeel Burris 13, Yusef Salih 12 and Michael Henshaw 10.
Claus said he was pleased with Idaho’s ability to attack off the dribble, get the ball into the post and to share the ball.
Idaho utilized 10 players, and all of them got at least 13 minutes in the game.
“I was very happy to get Hatten and Hanshaw some extended, meaningful minutes … attitudewise, they are as good as it gets,” said Claus.
After falling in their opening game to Denver University, 68-63, Moffitt said it was important for the Vandals to make a statement against Walla Walla.
The statement was “we’ve got dogs on our team. We can play,” Frank said.
“We showed we’re very versatile. We just showed we’re tough,” Moffitt said. “It’s a new era, a new Vandals team, and we’re really excited to play.”
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