MOSCOW, Idaho – The opportunities were there all Saturday afternoon, but Idaho’s men’s basketball team never quite took advantage during a 95-91 overtime loss to Idaho State
Idaho sent the game into overtime knotted at 81 when Divant’e Moffitt drove by Maleek Arington to score from the lane with 4.5 seconds remaining .
Moffitt had the ball in his hands again with 1.1 seconds left in overtime and the Vandals trailing 93-90. After being fouled by the Bengals’ Daxton Carr, Moffitt hit one free throw and intentionally banged his second attempt off the back iron
The Bengals’ Jordan Hansen gathered in the loose rebound and was fouled by Trey Smith with one-half second left. Hansen scored his only points on a pair of free throws to establish the final score.
Idaho coach Zac Claus refused to speculate about what might have been if Isaac Jones, the Vandals’ leading scorer with 27 points, had been on the court. Jones had fouled out with 2:17 left in overtime on a charging call.
“I can’t let my mind go there,” Claus said.
Jones, however, had a response.
“I was so mad,” Jones said. “I was just trying to stay positive.”
With the loss, Idaho slipped to 8-15 overall and 2-8 in the Big Sky Conference. Idaho State is 8-14, 5-4.
The Bengals took control of the first 10 minutes by dominating the offensive glass. At least six points off offensive rebounds were the difference in a 25-19 ISU lead. Jones, who finished as the game’s leading rebounder with 14, went to work and slowed Idaho State’s momentum enough for the Vandals to gain a 37-36 halftime lead.
“We didn’t have the right energy coming out,” Jones said. “We were ball-watching a lot. At halftime, we made the right adjustments and started boxing out.”
“(The Bengals) did a great (rebounding) job in the first half,” Claus said. “That was a big point of contention in our locker room. We put a premium on being physical, making contact on box-outs and we did a better job in the second half.”
But physical play was also at times Idaho’s undoing. The Vandals committed 23 fouls in a tightly called game in which the Bengals worked to draw charges.
“Every time I would touch someone, they would fall over,” Jones said.
The Bengals also lost key players as big men Brayden Parker and Kolby Lee fouled out with 16 and eight points, respectively. Carr fouled out with two points.
ISU’s Brock Mackenzie was also in foul trouble with four. He was the game’s leading scorer with 30 points.
The Bengals outrebounded Idaho 33-24 and owned the offensive boards 12-6.
Following off nights in a loss against Weber State on Thursday in which Jones scored 12 points and Moffitt 13, the two bounced back. They started slowly in the first half, with Jones scoring six points and Moffitt one. Moffitt, however, finished with 23 points to back Jones’ 27. Smith also reached double figures for the Vandals with 13.
Moffitt was also the game’s leading assist man with five.
“He is unfazed by little blips in the game,” Claus said. “He continues to attack, be aggressive and be the guy we need him to be.”
Idaho goes on the road to face Portland State on Thursday and Sacramento State on Saturday.
“We’ve got to put this behind us immediately,” Jones said . “We have got a big road trip coming up.”