Archive | February, 2009

Sharp-shooting Vandals take down Fresno State, 71-68

28 Feb

On the strength of a balanced offensive attack that struck all over the court, the Idaho Vandals defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs tonight in Fresno, 71-68. The victory moves the Vandals to 14-14 overall, 7-7 in the Western Athletic Conference, solidifying Idaho’s bid for a top-half seed in the WAC Tournament. The Vandals have now recorded as many conference victories this season as they had in the team’s three previous years in the WAC.

Senior guard Trevor Morris shot the lights out from outside, going 5-6 from the floor and 4-5 from downtown to lead the Vandals with 14 points. Junior point guard Mac Hopson and junior center Marvin Jefferson both recorded double-doubles, and Luciano de Souza added another 11 points on 4-10 shooting, 3-9 from beyond the arc. Hopson scored 13 points, dished out 10 assists and pulled in 4 rebounds, while Jefferson racked up 13 points, 11 rebounds and made 3 huge blocks. Overall, the Vandals shot 52.9 percent from the floor, 42.1 percent from 3-point land.

The game’s outcome was never clear until the final seconds, as the Vandals twice squandered substantial leads and the Bulldogs’ star, Sylvester Seay, drained a number of big buckets that kept the Bulldogs in the game. Seay led all scorers with 23 points on 8-14 shooting, and was well-nigh unstoppable once he got the ball in the paint.

But the Vandals’ defense was able to neutralize Fresno State’s outside game, as the Bulldogs shot just 27.3 percent from beyond the arc, and neither team was able to take advantage of free-throw opportunities. For probably the first time this season the Vandals actually outshot their opponents at the line, but that’s not saying much — combined, the two teams were an abysmal 20-42 from the charity stripe.

Key to the Vandals’ turnaround was Jefferson’s inside play. He did wind up with four fouls, but the ones he was tagged with were smarter and more spread out. Big Jeff played 31 minutes and came away with a solid stat line. His 11 boards provided all of Idaho’s 9-rebound advantage over Fresno State, and he knocked down big inside buckets that no other Vandal can sink.

The lesson: we need Mac Hopson on the floor for the team to thrive, but we need Marvin Jefferson on the floor to just survive.

Combined with Hawaii’s loss to San Jose State, the Vandals are now guaranteed no worse than a 7th-place finish in the WAC. With Boise State falling to Louisiana Tech, Idaho is now just one-half game behind the Broncos for the 4th seed.

7:25 p.m. – Vandal women fighting for second

28 Feb

Entering the final event, Idaho leads overall with 111, but La Tech is right behind at 110. Boise State is in third with 104. Idaho needs to finish top six to hold on to second place. They will have the advantage of running in the faster heat. The first heat is just getting ready to start. Nevada just dropped the baton…tough luck for the Wolf Pack, but good news for Idaho. The Vandals just need to score at least 4 points to guarantee second place.

Idaho needs to run approximately 3:53 in this event to stay in second place. The start is coming up in a few moments.

And they’re off…AshLee Rey with the first leg in fourth right now…she’ll hand off to Ellen Rouse. Rouse is a sub for Lindsey Goodman, who pulled a hamstring yesterday in the long jump and she’s running alright…still slightly trailing Utah State for fourth. Now Lauren Schaffer has the baton and she’s got to make up some ground for Idaho. The Vandals just need a decent run to ensure that they score two points, because I don’t think La Tech is going to lose this race. Keli Hall now with the final leg. La Tech is in control…Utah STate threatening BSU for second, which helps Idaho. BSU takes second and scores eight. Idaho needs at least two to stay in second…now we wait to compare the times. I think they did it.

Final scores: La Tech 120, Idaho 114, BSU 112

No title for the women, but you can’t say enough about the team effor this weekend. A lot of kids competed in a lot of events and it just sort of looked like that caught up with a few people there at the end. Great job by the Vandals this weekend.

WAC Hoops Night Chat – Feb. 28

28 Feb

OK, no Vandal home games tonight, but the Vandals are playing in Fresno State and there are three other big Western Athletic Conference matchups. Join us and talk WAC hoops all evening, starting at 6:30 p.m.!
Click here to begin!

6:45 p.m. – Drawing to a close…

28 Feb

The women’s shot put race is about halfway done and Mykael Bothum holds a comfortable lead. Idaho’s women have slipped to third in the team rankings after the 200m, but they’ll gain some ground as soon as the shot put goes final. Men’s and women’s 3,000m are getting ready to go right now. Idaho has five men in the 3,000m and four women. Women’s shot put has just ended and I’m awaiting results.

Just announced the team scores and Idaho is pretty much locked in at third place on the men’s side. No word yet on the women. Idaho women lead the team race going into the final event, but they’ll need to finish ahead of both La Tech and BSU to take the title.

Men’s 3,000m: 11 Laps to go and Matt Racine and Jeremiah Johnston sit in second and fourth, respectively. The race started at a very fast pace and things are starting to slow down a bit. Eight laps left and Idaho is now 3-4 in the race with Johnston holding strong near the front. Four laps left and Idaho’s guys are starting to fade a bit. I think that early fast pace might have hurt them. Freshman Alex Brekke making a move forward to try to get into scoring position. We weren’t able to score…tough luck for the men.

Women’s 3,000m: Large group of Vandal women here…and we need some serious points. I’d like to describe what’s going on here…but I can’t even see anyone because the field is so big and compact. Freshman Teegan Schoch leads the race, while Allix sits comfortably in fifth and Erica Digby and Julia Veseth trail slightly behind. Scary moment for Allix just now…she stumbled a little on the inside, but didn’t go down. She did lose a few spots, though. Eight laps to go and Allix just made her move to the outside…she’s now in about sixthand moving steadily forward. Teegan is also still in the scoring mix…she’s in about eighth or ninth right now. Allix is fifth and still coming strong. Five laps to go. Allix makes a big move up to third and the whole pack just followed her. Three laps to go….still a VERY tight race. Allix in third, Teegan in fifth. There’s a pack of about 10 women in the lead pack with two laps remaining. Allix takes the lead with a nifty move to the inside! She’s breaking away! Bell lap and a Utah State girl is closing. Allix now in second. Dang! She couldn’t quite keep up with USU’s Erin Stratton at the end, but you have to give Allix a HUGE pat on the back for what she did today.

Vandal men just took third in the 4x400m relay…that makes it official on that side. Idaho takes third as a team.

6:15 p.m. – Lucas Pope repeats…Idaho 1-2-3 in pole vault

28 Feb

Lucas Pope cleared 4.90m (16-0.75), Mike Carpenter cleared 4.80m (15-9) and Jeremy Klas cleared 4.70m (15-5) and tied for third. Lucas Pope makes it back-to-back titles and three straight if you include his 2008 outdoor title.

Here go the 800m finals:

Men’s 800m: Clark right to the front, Dalton stuck in back. A BSU runner just sprinted way out…he can’t keep that pace. Clark in second, Dalton moving into third. Halfway done and Dalton takes the lead, but Clark is fading…he’s got to be tired. Bell lap and Dalton is in second….he’s in the hunt. Dalton gets passed on the final stretch and finishes third, while Clark takes fifth.

Women’s 800m: Time for Lauren Schaffer to show her stuff. Idaho needs a big performance here. Schaffer moves to the head of the pack early. She’s right in the middle of it after two laps…one big pack. Now making her move on the outside, but she needs to make up some ground. We’re at the bell lap and Lauren needs to kick it in. She’s moved into fifth. She holds off a late rush and takes fifth overall.

They’ve just announced the awards and sophomore transfer Andrew Blaser just took sixth in the men’s triple jump. Men’s and women’s 200m coming up, followed by the 3k, so I’m going to run and check on the shot put.

6:10 p.m. – Vandals need a boost

28 Feb

The 60m dash is getting ready to start. The Vandal women have had some tough luck so far, as Heather Bergland and Christie Gordon went 2-3 in the event, but all isn’t lost. There are still plenty of places for the Vandal women to make up some points, but we need some more performances like Friday…we’ve had a few slip-ups.

False start in the men’s 60m dash….this could be bad news for someone…that’s a La Tech runner. Idaho’s Sam Michener is in lane one of this race. Here we go for the second time…and ANOTHER  stoppage….no false start. Somebody’s blocks slipped. Third time’s a charm? Great start for Sam…with a tight finish. Sixth place! Second-team all-WAC for the senior. Great job by Sam with a 6.94, which ties a personal best.

We’ve got the women’s 60m final, then the men’s 800m. Idaho has to hope for good performances by Fresno State and New Mexico State to steal some points from La Tech and BSU. Looks like La Tech went first and third, BSU second. Time for the Vandal men in the 800m.

5:20 – 60m Hurdles

28 Feb

Men’s Pole Vault: Men’s pole vault just went up to 15 feet…I don’t see who is still in, but I know all the Vandals are still here. Jeremy Klas, a promising freshman from Moscow High School just cleared 15-1 by about a mile. Ouch…Mike Carpenter just missed. His body cleared it by at least a foot and a half, but the pole hit the cross bar. Pope clears easily. Carpenter goes up and over. I think he might have two misses…so he’ll need a bigger performance in the next round if he wants to keep ahead in the competition. Bar just moved up and Carpenter just cleared after Klas narrowly missed. Second miss for Klas…here comes the final attempt. Pope and Carpenter have already moved on…and I think they’re the only two. Not a good jump for Klas on his last attempt, but I think he’s still in the running for third.

Now Pope and Carpenter are battling for the title…let’s see what happens. They’re attempting 16-0.75. Pope clears on first attempt….he’s not going to give up the WAC title easily, even to a teammate. Looks like a little bit of tactics going on…Carpenter passes and Pope misses his first attempt at the next height…they could be going after the Idaho record of 16-8.25. Pope misses again…not sure what this height is, but it’s pretty far up there. Pope is out. Carpenter is still in it, but he has passed the last two heights. If Carpenter doesn’t make this height, Pope will win and he’ll take second. Carpenter misses the first, but he definitely had the height. Second miss for Mike…here’s his last chance. I’m sure he’s going for the school record, possibly for provisional qualifying (17-0.75). Oooh…so close. He was over the bar on the final attempt, but he brushed it going down. Hopefully they’ll get the final results soon.

Men’s 60m Hurdles: Paul Dittmer in lane four, Maurice Shaw in lane five. Dittmer has got to be the big favorite here. He’s the only guy to break the eight-second barrier so far this season (five times, at that). Wow, tough break for Dittmer. Looked like his blocks slipped, because he did not get off well. Shaw takes fourth, Dittmer fifth. That’s a rough deal for Paul. He had complained a little about blocks slipping yesterday, and it really just looked like he didn’t get off well and he couldn’t recover. Shaw runs a lifetime-best 8.20 in the race and finishes fourth ahead of Dittmer, who also ran an 8.20.

Women’s 60m Hurdles: Christie Gordon running in lane five, Heather Bergland in lane three here. The Vandal women really need a 1-2 finish here to keep a leg up in the team scores. Ouch, Idaho goes 2-3. Bergland and Gordon both tie with 8.47. La Tech’s Antionette Cobb runs an 8.36 to win. Another tough break for Idaho in the hurdles.

Women’s Shot Put: They’re introducing the field now, so they’ll start that up soon. Mykael Bothum is the huge favorite there. We also need Martha Hale to step up huge in this event like she did in the weight throw yesterday. Bothum just opened with a huge throw, so I’m going to check it out. 16.78m! 55-1! She’s just short of the NCAA Automatic Standard and that’s a big school record. That’s fourth-best in the NCAA so far. Huge effort right off the bat.

Men’s 400m: Spencer Meinburg just ran a 49.80 in the first final of the men’s 400m. He took third in the heat, with the fast heat upcoming. Looks like Meinburg goes seventh overall.

5:05 p.m. – Men’s and Women’s Mile Run

28 Feb

Well, here we go. We’ve got James Clark, Steve Potratz and Kevin Merkling in the men’s final and Erica Digby and Allix Lee-Painter in the women’s race.

Men’s Mile Final: The gun is off and Clark moves right to the front. Merkling and Potratz both sticking in the lead pack. There are just nine runners in this field, so it’s going to be tight from start to finish. Five laps to go and Clark still leads, while Merkling and Potratz are in fifth and sixth, but still quite in it. Almost a disaster on the back stretch as a Utah State runner stumbled in front of a big group, but nobody went down. Clark still leads….3 laps left. Merkling and Potratz still moving forward….bell lap! It’s going to be tight. Clark in second, now third. Utah State’s Chio Lopez kicks hard and a La Tech runner edges Clark for second. Potratz takes fourth, Merkling sixth. Clark’s time 4:13.75.

Men’s Weight Throw: Ben Wood goes second, James Rogan goes third, Matt Wauters fifth and Evan Ruud sixth. Ben Wood goes provisional! Awesome. Still waiting on official results…

Men’s pole vault is still in the early stages and no Idaho vaulters appear to be in yet. The Vandals have a really good chance to go 1-2-3 in that event.

Women’s Mile Run: Here we go…two very strong Vandal women in this field. There’s the gun. They’re trying to push the pack, but Idaho’s runners aren’t biting. Both Erica and Allix near the back, but I don’t think it will stay that way for long. Allix is moving up, as is Erica. They’re sort of boxed in by a couple Nevada runners, but it looks like they’re pushing through now. They’re both moving up on the outside…Allix now in fourth, Erica closing in on fifth. Three laps to go, Allix now moving in on third place, while the field is starting to spread out. Erica running in sixth position. Two laps to go, Allix definitely looks strong. Erica starting to fade…she’s got to be tired. Bell lap and Allix is still in third….Utah State’s Stratton is kicking….Allix is closing in on second place. Allix overtakes a Fresno State runner for second over the final stretch and Digby looked like she took sixth. 4:57.51 for Allix…that’s a personal best. Very fast race, compared to last year. Digby officially seventh. She’s got to be gassed after yesterday’s performance, but she still picked up some points.

5:00 p.m. – This one is for all the marbles

28 Feb

Track ViewThe hour is nearly upon us and the track is already full of activity. I’ve attached a photo of my bird’s-eye view of the meet. I’ll try to give lap-by-lap accounts of all the track events and keep a watchful eye on the Vandals out in the field events.

4:40 p.m. – Weight Throw update

28 Feb

It looks like Idaho’s men are sitting 2-3-4 in the weight right now…Ben Wood just hit a one-foot PR and is in second, just ahead of James Rogan and I think Matt Wauters.

Wauters is not even close to 100% healthy right now, so him accomplishing what he’s already done so far this weekend is pretty impressive.

We’re about 20 minutes away from the starts in the men’s pole vault, men’s triple jump and the men’s mile final. The men’s weight is in the final round, so we’ll have some results coming very shortly.

2:35 p.m. – First update of the day

28 Feb

The men’s high jump has just begun. Idaho is represented by sophomore Andrew Blaser and junior Jonathan Marler in this event.

I just sat down and saw Marler clear his first attempt at 1.90m (6-2.75)…and just went over 1.95m (6-4.25) on his first attempt as well. He’s looking good. The bar is now at 2.00m (6-6.75)…If he makes it, he’ll tie a personal best. I think we’re down to six jumpers, but Johnny has the tie-breaker over La Tech’s jumper right now, so if they both go out I think he’s looking at fifth place. Marler is down to his last attempt, as is La Tech’s Jonathan Roque. Oooh, and he barely misses on the last attempt…three really good tries and three close misses. Tough luck for the junior, but Roque just missed also, which means Marler likely took fifth.

Blaser cleared 1.90m, but just missed out at 1.95m.

There’s a great high jump competition going on here….four jumpers left and the bar just moved to 6-10.75. Three Utah State guys, plus one Boise State jumper. I’m going to go watch the weight throw, then check back in again once we get closer to the running events. Wow…poor sportsmanship alert: Utah State’s fan section just started a slow clap for one of its jumpers and the Boise State fan section started another clap of its own off their rhythm…really classy…but I guess the consolation is that their guy currently trails the final Utah State jumper by two misses. And…Utah State’s Clint Silcock takes the win.

The next event to start will be the men’s weight throw at 3:30 (MT). I’ll probably head over there and watch that competition, since it’s likely to be a battle.

Vote for “Mac Hopson” and Vandal Nation

28 Feb

The dream is alive.

My lyrical ode to the Idaho Vandals’ star point guard, Mac Hopson, has made it to the Final Four in The Mid-Majority‘s weekly Bally contest. If I win, Idaho will have a Bally of its very own, sitting courtside in the Vandals’ final home games and the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Reno.

So, readers, help me make it happen. Vote for “Mac Hopson” and win a Bally for Vandal Nation.

You might as well bookmark The Mid-Majority while you’re at it — it’s pretty much the best Web site for mid-major hoops fans anywhere on these here Intertubes.

11:00 a.m. – WAC Indoor Track & Field Championships

28 Feb

Hey everyone…we’re still a few hours away from the action for the day, but I thought I’d give a few little tidbits about yesterday and some notes leading into today’s action.

First and foremost, senior runner Allix Lee-Painter will attempt the most difficult feat in track and field (and possibly in any sport) today when she attempts to hit the distance triple. She already won the 5,000m last night after qualifying with the top time in the mile run. She’ll run in the women’s mile final at 5:10 (MT) today, then do her best to rest and recuperate before the 7:05 3,000m final. No WAC athlete has ever accomplished the Mile/3k/5k distance triple…and only a couple have even hit the distance double. If she does this, forget WAC Athlete of the Year…they need to give her WAC Athlete of the Decade.

I got a more detailed explanation of what happened in the first heat of the women’s 60m hurdles and boy, it was a miracle that nobody was seriously injured. The men ran before the women and the men’s hurdles are spaced out slightly farther than the women’s, but it doesn’t become really apparent until the final two hurdles. I was directly across from the third hurdle and it was pretty obvious that everyone in the field got to that point where they were ready to step over the hurdle…but it was about an extra foot in front of them. I talked to Christie Gordon afterward and she told me that on the re-run of the heat, even though she knew the hurdles were all correct…she was still thinking about that for the entire race.

I sat in on a mini coaches’ meeting last night where they went over the projected scoring for today and all I have to say is ‘Wow.’ The projections that coaches Phipps and Teevens put together have basically four points separating first place from fourth place on the women’s side. If the Vandals can do again today what they did yesterday and steal a point here and a point there, that’s going to go a long way toward getting them their first WAC title. The men’s side is going to be a little tougher for Idaho, due in part to some injury issues. Cesar Barquero has been nursing an injury for the past few weeks and had hoped to be ready to go in the 800m yesterday, but it was just too much. If a few more things go their way, they could easily be fighting for second place, but I think they’ll probably end up third.

I can’t even express how exciting things were yesterday. It was awesome to see people stepping up big all over the track yesterday, but even more so, it was AMAZING to see that the people doing it were freshmen…in their very first WAC meet. The Distance Medley Relay team that had the huge comeback to beat out BSU for second place was three freshmen and a sophomore and every one of them had already run another event that day. Freshman Alyssa Covington was in a walking boot with a minor foot problem all last week, and then she came out and took fourth in the long jump, an event she was not projected to score in. Martha Hale comes in as a redshirt freshman in her first meet and hits a four-foot personal best in the weight throw to score two bonus points for Idaho. It’s also important to remember that when we sneak up and grab a couple extra points here and there, that’s a couple points that someone else isn’t getting. The DMR, for example, was a four-point swing between us a Boise State.

Trying to forget about Friday and look forward to today…and I’m already super excited for today. There are Vandal competitors in just about every event and I’d say that we’ve got a legitimate threat to win any event today. We won three individual WAC titles last year and we’ve already got three after two days here. I’d love to see three or four more today. I was thinking I might do a “People to Watch” preview where I look at the day’s events and talk about the ones we’ll do best in…but I’m just going to make it easy. Everything. We’ll have a legit shot to win both the men’s and women’s mile, men’s and women’s 60m hurdles, women’s shot put, men’s pole vault, men’s and women’s 3k, men’s and women’s 800m.

So I guess the point is….stay tuned, because things are going to get a little crazy today.

WAC men’s hoops preview: Feb. 28

28 Feb

It’s a broken record, but the Western Athletic Conference keeps proving that, as Kevin McCarthy says, “any team can beat any other team” — in men’s basketball, at least.

The thundering crash of high-ranked teams could be heard across the West on Thursday night. #2 Nevada fell to the conference doormat, #9 Fresno State. #3 New Mexico State was edged by #8 Louisiana Tech. Most painfully, the #5 Idaho Vandals were crushed on the boards and on the scoreboard by the #6 San Jose State Spartans. Only #1 Utah State evaded the trend in their comprehensive deconstruction of the #7 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

The midpack muddle we’ve referred to before, is even more unclear now than it was Thursday morning, if that’s even possible. Here’s the way they line up:

#2 Nevada (8-5)
#3 Boise State (7-5)
#4 New Mexico State (7-6)
#5 Idaho (6-7)
#6 San Jose State (5-8)
#7 Hawaii (5-9)
#8 Louisiana Tech (5-9)

Yes, the WAC’s #2 and #8 teams are basically separated by three and a half games. Parity? We gotcha parity right heeeeeeyah.

For the Vandals, a golden opportunity to move onto the inside track for the 3-seed was comprehensively blown, but that disappointment has to be tempered with the realization that this team is light years ahead of any Vandal program in the last decade. It’s easy to get overconfident and think we have things wrapped up, then be crushed by the two things that have plagued the Vandals all year: rebounding and free-throw shooting.

The bottom line is, the WAC is one of the nation’s deepest and most competitive mid-major conferences, and with so many young players on all the teams, next year is going to be even better.

Thursday’s WAC Hoops Night chat experiment was a success, so we’ll do it again, starting at 6:30 p.m. Click here to launch the chat, and set an e-mail reminder.

Today’s games (all times Pacific):

WAC #3 Boise State (7-5) at WAC #8 Louisiana Tech (5-9) (5 p.m.)

Louisiana Tech is hot — the Bulldogs are on a three-game win streak. Boise State is not — they’ve lost two straight and three of their last four, including a home loss to the hated Vandals and an embarrassing, nationally-televised defeat by Portland State. The Broncos would do well to savor their newfound #3 spot in the conference standings, because if they can’t top Louisiana Tech, they probably won’t stay there.

Other than Hawaii, the trek to Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State is the WAC’s toughest road trip, and Boise State gets to do it with less than a week before tournament time. The Broncos do have the advantage of a couple extra days off, but those can hurt as much as they help. Facing hot-shooting Mark Sanchez and Paul Noonan will be the conference’s second-best defense, and the Bulldogs are sure to fight hard in an effort to climb out of the WAC Tournament play-in game. Just like Thursday night with the NMSU Aggies, this will probably be one of the best games of the night.

WAC #1 Utah State (13-1) at WAC #2 Nevada (8-5) (7 p.m.)

Ah, the Battle Royale. The one we’ve all been waiting for: the conference’s #1 and #2 teams coming together in mortal combat. Could this be a preview of the WAC Tournament championship game? The Aggies dismantled Hawaii at home on Thursday night and had a chance to sit most of their starters. Nevada, by contrast, is coming off a tough road loss to Fresno State that went down to the final seconds. That extra rest may look really important down the stretch in this game.

Both teams have big offensive arsenals — Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson and Tai Wesley, Nevada’s Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson — so it would not be a shock to see one or both teams push for the century mark. But Utah State’s best-in-conference defense will undoubtedly try to neutralize the Wolf Pack by forcing them to over-rely on the big two. That tactic earned the Aggies an 11-point victory in Logan earlier this season, as the Pack bench was basically shut down all night. Nevada won’t roll over and go easily, though, and taking down the Aggies in the regular season would be a nice feather in the team’s cap if, by chance, we end up with a straight-seed, 1-2 WAC title game.

WAC #7 Hawaii (5-9) at WAC #6 San Jose State (5-8) (7 p.m.)

The demoralized, dispirited Rainbow Warriors have big problems. Hawaii has dropped three of its last four, and was comprehensively dismantled by San Jose State back in January. The Spartans, on the other hand, are looking to pull off the double-defense of their home court and make a play to move up in the WAC Tournament seeding. Hawaii is struggling just to stay out of the play-in game. This is a recipe for fail.

With Adrian Oliver back on the court, the Spartans’ conference-leading rebounding can finally be converted consistently into buckets. The Vandals paid the price for that on Thursday night, and the Rainbow Warriors just might do the same on Senior Night for San Jose State.

For a San Jose State perspective on this matchup, click here.

WAC #5 Idaho (6-7) at at WAC #9 Fresno State (3-10) (7 p.m.)

Underestimating Fresno State gets you whacked. Two of the WAC’s top teams — first Boise State, now Nevada — have found that out the hard way. Now, through a quirk of scheduling, the Idaho Vandals will get their very first look at the Bulldogs this season, with just three games to play. With the loss at San Jose State, this game really becomes a must-win for the Vandals. Heading into the WAC Tournament, they have to prove, to themselves if no one else, that they can win big, clutch games on the road. They also need to bring momentum with them back to the Cowan Spectrum for next week’s season-ending homestand.

The dream of winning out and finishing with 10 conference wins is dead. The chance to get a 3-seed is still alive, if only just. To do it, they’ll have to contain (not shut down, that’s probably not possible) Fresno State’s super-stud Sylvester Seay and keep Marvin Jefferson — Idaho’s only real post player — from regressing any further. In the Vandals’ three straight wins, Jefferson played 28, 26 and 31 minutes for the Vandals, compiling a grand total of four personal fouls and averaging 12 points per game. It seemed Big Jeff had turned a corner on the court. But in San Jose, he took a giant step back, fouling out after just 21 minutes and scoring just 4 points. If the Vandals are to win in Fresno, never mind make a deep run in the tournament, he simply must do better.

Monday’s game:

WAC #3 Boise State at WAC #4 New Mexico State (6 p.m.)

Friday’s results:

Louisiana Tech 80, New Mexico State 71

Utah State 82, Hawaii 62

Fresno State 68,  Nevada 66

San Jose State 72, Idaho 64

Vandals turn out the lights on Hawaii

28 Feb

The Idaho Vandals overcame a late slump and a 30-minute blackout to vanquish the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine tonight in Honolulu by a score of 63-60.

The victory moves the Vandal women to 12-13 overall, 9-5 in the Western Athletic Conference. With Boise State also winning tonight at San Jose State and Nevada falling to the Fresno State Bulldogs, the Vandals are now in a tie for third with the Broncos. Both teams are one-half game behind the 9-6 Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters and a game-and-a-half behind the 10-3 Bulldogs.

Late in the second half, the lights went out in the Stan Sheriff Center, forcing the game to be suspended. When play resumed, the Rainbow Wahine went on a 9-0 run to take a 2-point lead with 5 minutes remaining. The Vandals battled back and held Hawaii scoreless in the game’s final 2:24, while sophomore guard Rachele Kloke drilled three clutch free throws in that span to give Idaho the win. Kloke led all scorers with 20 points.


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