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Sports >  Idaho basketball

Idaho struggles offensively in loss to Cal-State Bakersfield

Nov. 16, 2022 Updated Thu., Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:04 p.m.

By Peter Harriman For The Spokesman-Review

MOSCOW, Idaho – On any other night, giving up 20 straight points in 6 minutes, 30 seconds would be the exasperating story of the game.

This was not that night.

The fact, though, that a crowd of about 2,000 could by turns stir with frustration and exhort their team was a brief, welcome reprieve from the sadness and shock that has hung heavily over Moscow the past four days since four University of Idaho students were discovered dead in a house near campus.

But that tragedy did color the basketball game in ICCU Arena, where Cal State Bakersfield pulled away from Idaho in the second half to a 52-43 nonconference victory.

“It was hard for all of us. We continue to grieve, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families,” Vandals sophomore guard Yusef Salih said .

“Instantly, with everything that happened, I take off my coach’s hat and put on my parent’s hat,” Vandals coach Zac Claus said. “Thoughts and emotions go to the grief-stricken families that are dealing with this devastating loss.

“You can only hope that they are coping as best they can.”

The Vandals and Roadrunners struggled through a first half .

“During a timeout, I asked one of the officials if we could check the rims,” Claus said .

The shooting was brutal. The Vandals were 7 for 24 in the first half, 2 for 12 on 3-point attempts. CSUB was hardly better at 11 for 30 and 0 for 4.

But the Vandals came out of the first period trailing just 22-21. In the second half they even took an early lead (26-24) on a Nigel Burris 3-pointer from the baseline.

On their next possession, Isaac Jones muscled up a shot under the basket. This put the Vandals ahead 28-24. They worked their advantage to 30-24 before the Roadrunners took over.

When things fell apart for Idaho, though, they fell all apart. The Vandals went almost 6:30 in the second half without a basket as the Roadrunners scored 20 consecutive points. Kaleb Higgins, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, accounted for 10 of them, and two Idaho shot-clock violations kept the Vandals on their heels.

“I thought Higgins did a very nice job of controlling the ball,” Claus said. “He was dynamic on-ball and he played at his speed, his tempo.

“When they were scoring, that slows us down.”

The Roadrunners’ offense improved somewhat in the second half. They hit on 8 of 22 field-goal tries, including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers. They converted all 10 of their free throws.

Idaho continued to struggle, going 8 for 22 from the floor, 5 for 16 beyond the arc and 1 for 4 at the free-throw line.

“It was just a matter of us taking care of the ball,” Salih said of Idaho’s second-half woes. “On 3s, we were not making any shots. That just happens. The shots were not falling.”

Idaho cut the deficit to 46-40 with 1:30 remaining, but Higgins stole Divant’e Moffitt’s pass intended for Salih in the corner. He was fouled by Salih and hit a pair of free throws, and the Roadrunners held on down the stretch.

CSUB also harassed the Vandals into 18 turnovers while committing only 10.

Early on, the teams were – if not successful – about equally struggling. Frank (6-8) got the Vandals off to a good start. He showed impressive speed for his size, driving from the baseline corner into the lane for a short jumper for Idaho’s first points.

But neither team solved the mystery of the other. There was too much individual play on offense and not enough passing. For the Vandals, Moffitt tries three shots from the left corner in the first few minutes. But he could not get dialed in and missed them all. Defensively, the Roadrunners did a competent job of doubling the ball inside to thwart Idaho’s efforts to establish dominance in the lane.

Claus went to the bench about five minutes into the first half to try to give the Vandals a spark.

“We kept Divant’e and Isaac (Jones) in there trying to find combinations,” Claus said. However, it was to no great avail, and he returned the starting five of Salih, Jones, Rashad Smith, Moffitt and Frank at about the 13-minute mark.

“We kept trying to find the right combinations. That is going to be an ongoing thing,” said Claus.

The Roadrunners made a minor bid to go on a run with back-to-back steals and scores by Higgins and Ivan Reynolds, respectively. It put CSUB ahead, 12-5. However, Idaho got back in contention, most emphatically with a Jones one-handed jam on a lob from Moffitt with seven minutes to play. This made the score 12-11.

The Vandals shut down a second attempt by the Roadrunners to pull away. With CSUB leading 20-13 with three minutes left in the first half, consecutive three-pointers by Salih and Frank brought the crowd to life and allowed Idaho to close to within a point again, 20-19.

The half ended with the Roadrunners up 22-21 after Moffitt buried both ends of a 1-1 with 1:17 remaining. Jones tried a no-look hook at the buzzer that was wide.

For the game, Higgins led all scorers with 18 points. Reynolds followed with 10 for the Roadrunners.

Jones and Moffitt paced Idaho with 10 points apiece, and Frank added nine.

CSUB improved to 2-1 while Idaho slipped to 1-3.

Women’s basketball

California 84, Idaho 71: Beyonce Bea’s 19 points weren’t enough as the Vandals lost a nonconference game at Berkeley, California.

Idaho (0-2) trailed by six points at halftime before the Golden Bears (2-1) extended their lead in the second half. The Bears outscored the Vandals 20-11 in the third quarter.

Idaho travels to Annapolis, Maryland, for the Navy Classic, beginning with a game against Richmond on Nov. 26.

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