Vandals make the tournament, buzzer-beater makes SportsCenter

4 Mar

At the end of every shootaround, the Vandals huddle up and get a little hustle on. Everyone grabs a ball and jacks up half-court buzzer-beaters until someone cans one.

Apparently, practice does make perfect.

As the first half of Idaho’s game against San Jose State tonight came to an end, Vandal guard Kashif Watson caught a defensive rebound on the Spartans’ right wing. He hesitated, turned and, with 00.1 showing on the clock, launched a prayer from about 70 feet out.

The buzzer sounded. Watson stopped, stood and watched the ball arc across the court, bank off the backboard and drop through the net. Then he turned and walked away — as the Cowan Spectrum exploded.

“I kind of heaved it, so I was surprised it went in,” Watson said. “It was just luck, but I figured let’s ride with it.”

The Vandals did, carrying an 18-point edge into halftime and surviving a late Spartan run to knock off San Jose State, 86-76. The win marks Idaho’s first home conference victory since January, and assures the Vandals of a berth in next week’s Western Athletic Conference Tournament. Idaho improved to 14-15, 5-10 in the WAC, while San Jose State dropped to 14-15, 6-9 WAC.

Watson’s shot was highlighted on SportsCenter as one of the day’s Top Ten Plays, but it shouldn’t overshadow a strong team effort from an Idaho squad that has struggled to come up with a cohesive game lately. Watson and Mac Hopson shared scoring honors with 17 points apiece, while Marvin Jefferson was a dominant force in the paint — particularly in the first half. As a team, Idaho shot 56 percent from the field and 55 percent from beyond the arc, one of the season’s best shooting performances.

Jefferson finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, but perhaps his most important plays came on defense. In the first half, he stood up and took three big charges, racking up the fouls on SJSU big men C.J. Webster and Chris Oakes. Webster would sit much of the first half with foul trouble, while Oakes would foul out late after scoring just two points.

“Marvin played very well in the first half, particularly, I think, taking those charges,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “He changed the whole flow of the game in the first half and it’s a tribute to him. He’s really been playing well these last three weeks of the year.”

The Vandals, who never trailed, burst out of the gate on a 6-0 run, keyed by a pair of putbacks from forward Luciano de Souza, normally a 3-point specialist off the bench but given a starting role tonight as part of Senior Week. Led by Jefferson’s 10 points and aided by the woes of SJSU’s bigs, Idaho owned a 24-8 advantage in the paint in the game’s opening 20 minutes.

“Banging in the paint is a tough job, but you have to do whatever you can to make plays,” Jefferson said. “They kept coming at me and I’ll take as many (charges) as I can.”

Further compounding the Spartans’ woes, star guard Adrian Oliver was stone-cold early, finishing the game’s first stanza with just 6 points and only one made field goal. Verlin credited stout defensive work by first Hopson, then Shawn Henderson, with keeping Oliver in check.

“Holding Oliver down was the difference in the first half,” Verlin said.

Early in the second half, it looked like more of the same for Idaho, as the Vandals pushed their lead to 22 points on a layup by Kyle Barone with just over 12 minutes remaining, and held a more-than-comfortable 20-point edge with six minutes to go. But then Idaho seemed to go into cruise mode, while Oliver went into overdrive. He canned back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers, part of a 19-6 SJSU run that cut the Vandals’ lead down to just 7 points with a minute and change left.

The clock became the Spartans’ enemy, however, and Idaho went 7-for-8 from the stripe down the stretch to seal the victory.

“We got sloppy the last five minutes and that’s when they made their run,” Watson admitted. “Coach called a good timeout and told us to settle down, play strong and contest all the shots and we listened. That’s basketball.”

The Vandals, as a whole, played a cleaner and smarter game, taking high-percentage shots and handling the basketball with precision. That’s the kind of play that Idaho will need to keep its season going into the postseason. Idaho closes its regular season with Senior Night on Saturday against Hawaii at 5 p.m., before traveling to Reno for the single-elimination WAC Tournament.

“Coach said this week is our playoffs,” Jefferson said. “We had to win tonight, we have to win on Saturday and we have to keep winning to keep playing.”

Likely because of the team’s struggles at home in the last month, attendance clocked in at under 1,000, and Verlin closed his press conference by imploring fans to come out on Saturday and support his graduating seniors.

“I need your help, all of our fans, for this next game,” Verlin said. “Our seniors deserve a full house for their last night. This group has brought a lot of respect back to Vandal basketball and they’d appreciate the support.”

Official Basketball Box Score
San Jose State vs Idaho
03/04/10 7:05 p.m. at Moscow, Idaho (Cowan Spectrum)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
VISITORS: San Jose State 14-15, 6-9 WAC
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
02 Oliver, Adrian...... *  8-19   4-8    4-5    2  1  3   1  24  2  3  0  0  36
05 Graham, Justin...... *  5-6    0-0    2-3    1  1  2   3  12  4  3  0  5  38
23 Owens, Robert....... *  3-11   3-9    0-0    0  3  3   2   9  0  2  0  1  37
30 Oakes, Chris........ *  0-0    0-0    2-2    2  2  4   5   2  1  2  0  0  20
33 Peterson, Mac....... *  3-7    2-5    2-2    0  1  1   5  10  2  2  0  1  36
04 Thomas, Kyle........    1-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   2  0  0  0  0   3
10 Moor, Aalim.........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
22 Webster, C.J........    7-10   0-0    3-7    3  6  9   4  17  1  2  0  0  24
24 Jones, Chris........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
32 Henson, Joe.........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
35 Dixon, Anthony......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   1   0  0  0  0  0   3
   TEAM................                         1  3  4
   Totals..............   27-54   9-22  13-19   9 18 27  21  76 10 14  0  7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  7-22 31.8%   2nd Half: 20-32 62.5%   Game: 50.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-6  33.3%   2nd Half:  7-16 43.8%   Game: 40.9%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half: 11-13 84.6%   2nd Half:  2-6  33.3%   Game: 68.4%    2

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Idaho 14-15, 5-10 WAC
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Hopson, Mac......... *  4-8    1-1    8-12   1  2  3   2  17  4  1  0  1  34
05 Johnson, Steffan.... *  3-7    3-6    1-1    0  4  4   1  10  5  1  0  0  29
13 de Souza, Luciano... *  4-6    0-2    0-0    4  3  7   1   8  0  1  0  1  31
32 Watson, Kashif...... *  5-8    1-1    6-10   1  7  8   2  17  7  4  0  2  38
53 Jefferson, Marvin... *  7-12   0-0    1-1    2  2  4   3  15  0  2  2  2  27
03 Henderson, Shawn....    2-5    0-0    2-4    1  3  4   0   6  0  0  0  1  16
20 Lawrence, Marcus....    1-1    1-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   3  0  0  0  0   3
21 Toledo, Luiz........    1-3    0-0    0-2    0  1  1   2   2  0  1  0  0   8
33 Barone, Kyle........    3-4    0-0    2-2    3  0  3   3   8  2  1  0  0  14
   TEAM................
   Totals..............   30-54   6-11  20-32  12 22 34  14  86 18 11  2  7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 18-32 56.3%   2nd Half: 12-22 54.5%   Game: 55.6%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-7  57.1%   2nd Half:  2-4  50.0%   Game: 54.5%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-10 50.0%   2nd Half: 15-22 68.2%   Game: 62.5%    6

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Officials: Randy McCall, Mike Littlewood, Darron George
Technical fouls: San Jose State-None. Idaho-Barone, Kyle.
Attendance: 961
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
San Jose State................   27   49  -   76
Idaho.........................   45   41  -   86

Points in the paint-SJSU 32,IDAHO 40. Points off turnovers-SJSU 16,IDAHO 16.
2nd chance points-SJSU 14,IDAHO 10. Fast break points-SJSU 2,IDAHO 4.
Bench points-SJSU 19,IDAHO 19. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.
Last FG-SJSU 2nd-00:26, IDAHO 2nd-03:26.
Largest lead-SJSU None, IDAHO by 22 2nd-13:28.
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One Response to “Vandals make the tournament, buzzer-beater makes SportsCenter”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Watson to miss WAC Tourney; career at Idaho over « Vandal Nation - March 9, 2010

    [...] in what would be his final game as a Vandal, Watson banked in a 75-foot buzzer-beating shot just before the halftime break in Idaho’s 86-76 win over San Jose State. The miracle bucket [...]

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