It was an unbearable end to an unforgettable season for the Idaho men’s basketball team, who were thrashed by WAC opponent Utah State 76-56 in the second round of the Collegeinsiders.com Tournament Saturday in Logan.
After defeating UC Santa Barbara in Wednesday’s first round game, the Vandals experienced one of their worst shooting nights of the season, digging themselves into a hole during the first half that saw them go 27 percent from the field.
“It’s a very tough place to play, they’re very well coached,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “This game needs to be flushed down the toilet, really. I don’t think we need to focus on this game as far as our season.”
The Vandals, who went scoreless for the game’s first four and a half minutes, scored just 16 points in the first half. A Utah State team that also struggled offensively started out shooting 1-7. However, a 13-0 Aggie run followed and the hosts found themselves up 19-3 midway through the first.
Five minutes later, the Aggies scrapped together a 12-0 run to extend their lead to 24 points. Stew Morrill’s squad cruised into halftime with a 39-16 lead.
The teams traded 7-0 runs to begin the second but a Vandal comeback would prove to be too demanding a task, despite shooting a much-improved 52 percent in the second half.
Though no Idaho players scored in double digits, juniors Kyle Barone and Mansa Habeeb each poured in eight second half points to help the cause of an offensively flat Vandal side.
Aggie guard Preston Medlin tallied a career-high 32 points against the Vandals earlier this season but Idaho held the sophomore all-WAC first teamer to 50 percent from the field and 17 points this time around.
Idaho out-rebounded the Aggies 30-25 but committed 17 more turnovers. Utah State shot 49 percent from the field and was led by Brockeith Pane, who dished out 11 assists despite scoring just seven points.
For Verlin, Saturday’s result in no way reflected what Idaho achieved during the regular season.
“What this Vandal team did is they played with their heart all season long. This team did a number of unbelievable things and things you have to be proud of,” he said. “They came to work every single day, it didn’t start in the season, it started early this summer.”
The dedication and hard work paid off for a team that accomplished a number of impressive tasks this season.
For starters, the Vandals lengthened the season by winning their opening round game in the CIT Tournament, a feat they failed to achieve last season when falling to the University of San Francisco in the opening round. Their postseason appearance was the third in four years.
The Vandals posted their best WAC mark (9-5) in school history and beat every team in the process, including an away win at then undefeated Nevada.
Lastly, four of Idaho’s five starters received all-WAC honors, including each of the team’s three seniors; Deremy Geiger, Landon Tatum and Djim Bandoumel.
“Our seniors were as good as three guys as I’ve ever seen,” Verlin said. “They all did their jobs, so mainly their hard work and dedication to Vandal basketball enabled them to put together a great season.”
Verlin’s 19-win team returns two starters in Barone and sophomore Stephen Madison, while all eight of the team’s bench players will also be back.
“We’ve got to continue, we had lineups out there that we’ll play a bit next year, I like the foundation,” he said. “We have 10 guys coming back, and I think we’ve recruited well.”
The Idaho men’s basketball squad built a 17-point lead in the first half against CSU Santa Barbara and despite a hot second-half by the Gauchos, Idaho held on to squeak out 86-83 win in the first round of the College Insider’s Tournament. The Vandals will face off against WAC-rival Utah State in the second round. Photos courtesy of Ilya Pinchuk
The Idaho women were blown out by the Fresno State Bulldogs in the quarterfinal round of the WAC Tournament. The Vandals were unable to get any offensive pressure in the first half, which put them in a hole they were unable to recover from. Photos courtesy of Ilya Pinchuk
Another season for the Idaho women’s basketball team is in the books after the Vandals fell to Fresno State 80-55 in the WAC Tournament semifinals on Friday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Fresno State’s defensive pressure disrupted the Idaho offense all game and the Vandals were never able to mount a comeback after falling behind early.
Sophomore Alyssa Charlston said Idaho wasn’t able to adjust to Fresno State’s speed and pressure quick enough.
“We’ve played against it before, and I don’t know why we came out more tentative this time,” Charlston said. “We kind of lacked confidence in the beginning and it just seemed like their speed of the game was faster than us.”
The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time at the start and quickly established control of the game. Idaho was held scoreless through the first nine minutes of the game, allowing Fresno State to take a 20-0 lead. Things settled down a bit for Idaho in the second half of the period, but the Vandals still went into halftime with a 19-point deficit and down 33-14.
Idaho coach Jon Newlee said the first minutes of the game set a tone that Idaho was never able to break.
“I thought the tone was set early when we missed those layups early, point blank layups,” Newlee said. “I think it kind of fed their fire a little bit. We knew they were going to come out extremely aggressive.”
The second half didn’t get any better for the Vandals. Fresno State came out firing again and never allowed Idaho to mount a comeback. The Bulldogs lead by as many as 36 and were able to put the game in cruise control for the blowout victory.
Fresno State coach Adrian Wiggins said his team’s victory was due to their disruption of Idaho’s flow and the confidence his team played with.
“We had a lot of respect for Idaho’s shooting ability. We didn’t want to let them catch and shoot,” Wiggins said. “…We didn’t make a lot of buckets in the first half, but I think we gained a lot of confidence with the lead we jumped out to.”
Fresno State’s Ki-Ki Moore led all scorers with 19 and was one of four Bulldogs players to reach double figures in the contest. Charlston lead Idaho with 14.
The Vandals were outrebounded 44-34 in the game and gave up 17 offensive boards. Newlee said his team gave up too many second chances to Fresno State.
“The offensive rebounds really hurt us. One of our keys to winning was not to give them second changes. I think they do a great job of chasing down the misses,” Newlee said. “We did not do a good job of blocking out tonight. We did an extremely poor job of blocking out tonight and it did end up costing us.
With the win the Bulldogs move on to the conference championship where they will play La. Tech in an attempt to win a second straight WAC title. It’s the second straight year the two teams have met in the final.
It was a season of ups and downs for a young Vandal squad that managed to come together toward the end of the season and claim the No. 4 seed in the tournament before winning the first round. The Vandals will say goodbye to seniors Keri Arendse, Adrie Shiels and Ganeaya Rogers.
Optimism became contagious for the Vandal men’s basketball team late in the second half, but a second half surge wasn’t enough to save No. 3 Idaho from crashing out if its second consecutive WAC Tournament, falling to No. 6 Hawaii 72-70 in the first round.
A Zane Johnson-less Warrior team faced further despair midway through the second half when second-leading scorer Joston Thomas earned a technical foul and fouled out of the game. Only minutes later, coach Gib Arnold drew the team’s second technical, helping Idaho take a seven-point lead, its largest of the game.
But it was a Warrior team that made all the right plays at all the right rimes. Johnson’s replacement, freshman Shaquille Stokes, netted a crucial three-point shot to tie the game at 64-64 with three minutes to play.
“Obviously losing Zane was a big deal and I just felt good about this team, I felt like they deserved it,” Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said. “We’ve been a team that’s battled, we’ve been a team that’s done some really good things this year… We’ve struggled the past three weeks and the team and the university needed it.”
At 68-68 and with less than one minute remaining, Vander Joaquim stole an offensive rebound away from the Vandals, tipping it back in to earn a two-point lead. Kyle Barone’s lay in on the other end set the score level once more but Hawaii’s Hauns Brereton knocked down a baseline jumper, leaving the Vandals three seconds to pull out a miracle. Stephen Madison’s inbounds pass fell into the hands of Joaquim and the Warriors had every right to celebrate their first conference tournament victory since 2005.
“We made a couple of tough decisions but that’s basketball and it came down to a one-possession game,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “I thought they did things they usually do to stop our run and get themselves back in, Stokes hit a big three.”
At the helm for four years now, Verlin has experienced his fair share of tournament woes.
“It was a tough one, there’s no question about it,” Verlin said. “You’ve got to give Hawaii credit, the way they played down the stretch, Vander Joaquim had a couple key rebounds down the stretch there… I couldn’t be prouder of our team; I thought we played extremely hard.”
Idaho’s offensive success was limited in the first half, when the Vandals shot a dismal 34 percent from the field and 12 percent from three-point range. Both teams concluded the game shooting 44 percent from the field.
Stokes played Johnson’s role almost to perfection and the Harlem native, who didn’t log one minute against the Vandals in Moscow earlier this season, tallied 17 points Thursday.
Arnold praised the play of his two guards.
“I mean you’ve got two point guards who have combined for 12 and 1 (12 assists, one turnover), you’re going to be in every game and we’ve kind of seen that translate, which is nice,” he said.
It was Brereton who was the Warriors’ surprise hero though. In addition to his game-winning jumper, the junior forward was 6 of 8 from the field and also finished with 17 points. Brereton averaged just seven points-per-game during the regular season.
The dominant inside play of Joaquim and Barone, the conference’s top two centers, caused 42 fouls between the teams. Joaquim’s double-double saw him drop 20 points and grab 13 rebounds while Barone added 19 points. Senior forward Djim Bandoumel snatched a career-high 16 rebounds.
Idaho’s chances at a postseason tournament, likely the CIT or CBI, are high and will be announced as early as Sunday.
The Warriors will advance to the semifinals and play the winner of No. 2 New Mexico State and No. 7 Fresno State.
The Idaho men’s basketball squad lost in heart-breaking fashion today in a first-round match-up against the Hawaii Warriors. Photos courtesy of Ilya Pinchuk
After seeing a 19-point first half lead evaporate, the Vandal women’s basketball team was able to hang on and beat San Jose State 67-63 Wednesday night at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and advance to the semi-finals of the WAC Tournament.
The Spartans surged in the second half and got within three points of Idaho with less than a minute to go, but freshman Krissy Karr hit two free throws to give the Vandals a four-point lead that would hold.
Idaho sophomore Alyssa Charlston said it’s an amazing feeling to get the first round win.
“It’s huge for us. We’re a team that’s been improving all along,” Charlston said. “… We have a lot of threats on our team and I think just getting this game is going to get a lot of confidence.”
Next up for Idaho will be the No. 1 seeded Fresno State Bulldogs. The game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Vandals started the game on a 5-0 run, but it was quickly countered by the Spartans. Over the next 10 minutes the Vandals slowly extended their lead, and after an 8-0 run and barrage of 3-pointers, Idaho cemented the lead. Idaho led by as many as 19 and went in to the break with a 41-24 lead. The Vandals hit nine 3-pointers in the first half.
Idaho coach Jon Newlee said it was all about getting stops in the first half.
“We came out on fire. I thought we’re playing well,” Newlee said. “I thought we defended extremely well in the first half.”
The score may have been lopsided at halftime, but the game was far from over. The Spartans came out of the locker room and went on a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to single digits. Throughout the half the teams played a counter punch game, but slowly the Spartans climbed back into it, led by all-WAC senior Brittany Johnson.
The Spartans cut the deficit to three in the last minute but Johnson was forced to give up her fifth and final foul, sending Karr to the line with 3.9 seconds remaining. Karr made both free throws to make it a two possession game, sealing the Idaho victory.
Newlee said he wasn’t happy with his team’s energy in the second period.
“In the second half, I thought defensively we broke down as some point, but you have to give a lot of credit to Brittany (Johnson),” Newlee said. “I thought in the second half we got tentative with the basketball and tentative in our shot selection and it almost cost us, but I’m proud of the way we hung tough.”
Johnson led all scorers with 31 points. Karr led Idaho with 17 while Charlston had 16 and 15 rebounds.
Newlee said the Vandals will practice at a local high school on Thursday to prepare for Fresno State on Friday.
For San Jose State, the loss ends another season and the career of Johnson, who was the second-leading scorer in the conference this season. It was a breakout year for the Spartans, who won nine more games this year than last year. First-year coach Tim La Kose was named WAC coach of the year for his efforts.
La Kose said despite losing Johnson, this year should serve as a building block for San Jose State’s future.
“Going into the future now, I think the expectations have been laid,” La Kose said. “It’s a tribute to what this group did.”
Tournament time is finally here and the Idaho women’s basketball team will get things going when they take on San Jose State in the first round of the WAC Tournament Wednesday night.
The Vandals finished the regular season with a 6-8 conference record and are the No. 4 seeded team in the tournament. Idaho started conference play 0-5, but put it together in the second half of the season.
Sophomore Alyssa Charlston said the team is ecstatic for tournament play.
“We’re super excited,” Charlston said. “Everything starts off 0-0 from here on out, so we’re looking to play a whole new brand of basketball.”
It will be the third meeting between the Vandals and Spartans this season. Idaho won both meetings this year, but by a narrow margin. Charlston said Idaho isn’t taking anything for granted.
“It shows that we can finish games, but the WAC tournament is a whole different thing,” Charlston said. “It’s a clean slate. It’s hard to beat a team three times. It’s been two close games. We have the confidence and know we are capable of it, but it’s no guarantee whatsoever.”
The Spartans are led by all-WAC selection Brittany Johnson, who is the second-leading scorer in the conference and played a big role in SJSU’s resurrection this season. Johnson set a new Spartan record for points in a season.
SJSU coach Tim La Kose was named WAC coach of the year this season in his first year with the Spartans. Under La Kose, the Spartans won nine more games than they did last season.
The Vandals won their last two games of the season, largely because they were able to take care of the ball. In their last two games the Vandals turned the ball over just 16 times. Idaho coach Jon Newlee said his team has to continue to cut turnovers if the wins are going to keep coming.
“We’re going to have to make good decisions with the basketball,” Newlee said. “I think we’re going to have to rebound and match their physicality. Defensively, they’re extremely talented and athletic offensively, so we’re going to have to get out there. I think we’re going to have to come focused defensively.”
Leading the Vandals is Charlston, who was also named to the all-WAC first team. Charlston was the fourth-leading scorer in the conference and the second-leading rebounder.
The Vandals are a young squad and the experience of a conference tournament will be a new experience to multiple players on the roster. Nevertheless, Newlee said his team is focused and ready to go.
“I think we’re focused,” Newlee said. “They know what’s at stake. It’s the best time of the year. It’s postseason tournament time, a lot riding on it. There’ll be a lot of emotion out there.”
“I think we’re excited to get out there,” Charlston said. “We just have to bring the energy that we brought the last five or eight games.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena. The winner of the contest will advance to the semifinals and play on Friday.
Photo by Ilya Pinchuk
The preseason No. 5 Idaho (17-12, 8-5 WAC) men’s basketball team silenced WAC critics Thursday evening with an 82-63 thrashing of Hawaii (15-14, 6-7 WAC) at Honolulu’s Stan Sheriff Center.
With the win, Idaho will be no less than the No. 3 seed in next week’s WAC Tournament in Las Vegas and with a win Saturday at San Jose State and New Mexico State loss at Fresno State, the Vandals would clinch the No. 2 seed.
Like they did last week in Logan, Utah, the Vandals busted the game open early and carried a convincing 17-point lead into halftime. However, a sequel to last week’s meltdown against Utah State seemed a slight possibility when the Warriors’ 16-5 run to start the second half hacked the Vandal lead down to eight points.
A calm and collected Stephen Madison netted consecutive baskets and Deremy Geiger’s ensuing three-pointer put Idaho up 17 once again. Shaquille Stokes’ consecutive three-pointers cut the lead to 10 but Hawaii’s chance had come and gone.
Coach Don Verlin insisted the Vandals were at their very best Thursday night.
“We can’t play any better than that, I thought out team played about as well as we can play and I couldn’t be happier for them,” Verlin said. “We talked about having a competitive spirit about us and I really thought we brought that to the island.”
The Vandals, who had won five straight before falling to the Aggies on Saturday, shot lights out, going 26 for 51 from the field. They still remain perfect when shooting 50 percent or better.
Meanwhile, the Vandals’ defensive efforts deserved an applaud, mainly because junior center Vander Joaquim, a potential all-WAC first teamer was held to four points and was a lowly 1 for 7 from the field. Joaquim, who posted 18 points against the Vandals in Moscow, fouled out late in the second half.
Idaho’s Kyle Barone was responsible for Joaquim and the junior’s stellar defense held Joaquim to one of his worst shooting nights all season.
“I just wanted to make it tough on him, I didn’t want him to get a good sweet spot right on the block where he’s a dribble or two away from the basket,” Barone said. “Just fighting him the whole way up the court, frustrated him a little bit and our guards helped us with a little help off the point guards, start digging a bit on the ball… He never got in a rhythm.”
In fact, 41 total fouls were committed Thursday; with Joaquim and Vandal forward Djim Bandoumel being the only two to foul out.
Idaho all but dominated the boards, out-rebounding the WAC’s second-leading rebounding team 46 to 27.
“They were missing their shots and we were getting the rebounds, and we didn’t do that in Moscow, we didn’t do a good enough job contesting shots and boy I’ll tell you I thought we did a great job,” Verlin said.
The feat proves more impressive considering the fact that no Vandal had more than nine rebounds and it was junior Mike McChristian who came off the bench to lead his team with nine boards, a career-high for the junior college transfer.
Shooting guard Deremy Geiger had combined for 10 points in three previous meetings with the Warriors, but the senior broke out of his shell, doubling that total and finishing with 20 on Thursday. Geiger was 4 for 9 from three-point land.
“I mean I guess he was born here, so it was a homecoming for him,” Barone said of Geiger. “We found that out before the game and he lived here for two years and he was born here. I said this is your hometown you’ve got to show out.”
Sophomore Stephen Madison trailed Geiger with 17 points and eight rebounds while bigs Djim Bandoumel and Barone were a few points and rebounds shy of double-doubles.
Idaho’s bench came out firing on all cylinders in the first half and freshman Connor Hill lined up and converted three consecutive trifectas early on. McChristian became the Vandals’ role player and his nine rebounds were complimented with six points, three assists and two steals.
The win was Idaho’s largest ever in Honolulu and extended the Vandals streak in Honolulu to three games. In addition, the Vandals have now beaten every WAC team at least once this season.
It’s back to Northern California for the third time this season for Idaho, who faces one last WAC regular season test against one-win San Jose State (9-20, 1-12) Saturday night. The Spartans haven’t won in conference since they beat Fresno State in double overtime on February 9. Although Idaho had no trouble with the Spartans earlier this season, beating them 74-66 in the Cowan Spectrum, seven of SJSU’s nine wins have come at home. SJSU have already locked the eight seed in the WAC Tournament.