In this week’s news conference, Idaho women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee talks about the team’s eight game losing streak, the success of Alyssa Charlston, and the talented youth core of his team.
The losing streak has now reached six games for the Vandal women’s basketball team, with a 72-49 loss to Fresno State on Saturday in the Cowan Spectrum.
Fresno State (15-4, 3-0 WAC) proved why they’re the first place team in the WAC, while a young Idaho team (5-14, 0-3 WAC) continued to struggle.
Sophomore Alyssa Charlston said her team isn’t showing what they’re capable of.
“We should be competing with a team like Fresno State, and we did,” Charlston said. “We should not be at the bottom of the WAC. We have too much talent. We have too much heart, but we need to show that on the court.”
The Vandals came out sluggish in the first half and quickly fell behind when the Bulldogs went on a 12-2 run in the first 10 minutes of the game. Fresno State led by as many as 12 points in the half, but the Vandals woke up and finished the half strong, cutting the deficit to eight to go into the locker room down 32-24.
The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 10.1 three-pointers a game, the second most in the country, but it wasn’t their inside game that was the difference in the first half. The Vandals held the Bulldogs to just 1 of 4 from the arc in the first half and 4-18 for the game.
Unfortunately for Idaho the second half was all Bulldogs. Fresno State quickly took control of the game in the second half and Idaho couldn’t mount a comeback. The Bulldogs were able to put it in cruise control for the last five minutes of the game pulling out what was a one-sided victory.
Turnovers, which have plagued the Vandals all year, continued to be a problem. The Vandals turned the ball over 29 times which led to 30 Bulldog points. The Vandals also have up 24 offensive rebounds leading to 17 second chance points for the Bulldogs. Newlee said his team isn’t being tough enough underneath the basket.
“We’re not physical enough. We’re soft and that’s the problem,” Newlee said. “… You have to get tough in division I basketball. That’s just the way it is. It’s been a season long problem for us.
The Vandals were without their second leading scorer Stacey Barr, due to a one game suspension for a flagrant foul at New Mexico State, which hurt Idaho in this one. Alyssa Charlston led the Vandals with 15 points while freshman Krissy Karr also had a solid game with eight points.
The Vandals will continue the home stand on Monday when they take on Nevada at 6 p.m. in the Cowan Spectrum. The game was originally scheduled to be played on Jan. 19, but was moved due to poor weather conditions. Idaho will then close the home stand against Utah State on Saturday.
“Everyone needs to play like a leader on the floor,” Charlston said. “It’s not just about talking or getting people fired up. It’s about playing as aggressively as we can and as hard as we can because that rubs off on other people.
The Vandal women’s basketball team couldn’t quite get it done on the road at Louisiana Tech, falling to the Techsters 66-54 in the WAC opener.
The loss extends Idaho’s (5-12, 0-1 WAC) losing streak to five games as the Vandals dropped another tough game and still have never beaten the Techsters (8-8, 1-0 WAC). in program history. The losing streak has come on a number of close games. The Vandals have been able to hang with teams, but just can’t get over the hump for a victory. Idaho will get the chance on Saturday to snap the streak when they stay on the road a New Mexico State.
The Vandals come out sluggish and found themselves with a 13 point deficit at the half. The Vandals then gave up a 9-2 run to start the second half to dig themselves into a hole. Idaho coach Jon Newlee said he wasn’t happy with his team’s demeanor out of the locker room.
“We came out intimidated,” Newlee said. “They really came out intimidated and that disappoints me. We talked at halftime about not being scared and just playing ball, and you see what happens when we did that at the start of the second half.”
To Idaho’s credit, the Vandals didn’t go down easily. Idaho started to put it together and cut the lead to six at one point, but the Techsters went on a run late in the half to put the Vandals away.
Turnovers continued to be an issue for the Vandals as they turned it over 23 times in the game. Louisiana Tech also helped their cause with 15 blocks in the game, just shy of a Techster record. La Tech’s bench was also a big factor in the game, scoring 37 points for the Techsters.
Sophomore Alyssa Charleston and Freshman Stacy Barr were the only two Vandals in double figures on the night. Barr had 11 points while Charleston claimed her fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite the unimpressive record, the Vandals are a young team that has been looking better as the season has progressed. Louisiana Tech has been the WAC powerhouse in Women’s basketball and the fact that this game was as close as it was should be encouraging for Vandal fans. Newlee said he was happy with the way his defense played.
“I thought our defense was outstanding to go out there and play 40 minutes man-to-man against Louisiana Tech,” Newlee said. “We knew we had some good looks that just weren’t going down early on, but our free throw shooting has got to get better. It was just a lack of knocking down some shots, one person getting hot and it’s a different ballgame.”
The Vandals will play their first home conference game next Thursday against Nevada.
RENO, Nev. — We’re back in the Lawlor Events Center for the second day of quarterfinal action in the 2010 Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament.
The bracket for the men’s quarterfinals looks like this:
(1) Utah State vs. (8) Boise State — noon
(4) Louisiana Tech vs. (5) Fresno State — 2:30 p.m.
(3) New Mexico State vs. (6) San Jose State — 8:30 p.m.
We’ll have complete liveblog coverage of the Vandals/Wolf Pack showdown, with pregame analysis starting at 5:30 p.m., tip at 6.
The winners will play Friday in the semifinals, with the 1/8 and 4/5 winners squaring off in one matchup, the 2/7 and 3/6 winners in the other.
Yesterday, Idaho’s women made history, becoming the first Vandal team to reach the semifinals in any WAC basketball tournament since Idaho joined the conference in 2005. They defeated New Mexico State, 75-63, and will play the No. 1 seeded Fresno State Bulldogs on Friday at noon.
- For a complete rundown on the day’s conference tournament action across the mid-major leagues, check out The Mid-Majority’s Tourney Central.
- Follow us on Twitter — @VandalNation — for live courtside scoring updates throughout the WAC Tournament.
- The Spokesman-Review’s Josh Wright has a game preview of this evening’s Idaho/Nevada showdown.
- Nick Jezierny of the Idaho Statesman looks at Boise State’s final chance to make something of a disappointing season. Nick also checks in with a quicky on Idaho’s win over NMSU and storylines to watch this week.
- The Nevada Sagebrush is all over the WAC Tournament.
- Idaho’s “sneaky” squad could pose a threat to the Wolf Pack’s NCAA Tournament hopes — at least, so says the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Chris Murray.
- Kraig Williams, a very good friend of the Vandal Nation, is liveblogging everything for Rush the Court. (h/t to Parsing the WAC.)
- Also check out the Las Cruces Bulletin’s courtside coverage.
RENO, Nev. — A light dusting of snow fell on the Washoe Valley last night, as the eight Western Athletic Conference women’s basketball teams which qualified for the tournament get ready to play this afternoon. Four of their NCAA Tournament dreams will end today.
The bracket for the women’s tourney looks like this:
(1) Fresno State vs. (8) Hawaii — noon
(3) Nevada vs. (6) Boise State — 6 p.m.
(2) Louisiana Tech vs. (7) Utah State — 8:30 p.m.
The 1/4 game winner and the 2/3 game winner will play Friday in the semifinals.
We’ll go live from courtside at 2 p.m. for pregame coverage of the Idaho/New Mexico State matchup.
- Jared Eborn reports on Utah State coach Stew Morrill getting a slap on the wrist from WAC commish Karl Benson. Apparently, he said something naughty to NMSU guard Jahmar Young, who had just been T’ed up. (h/t to Parsing the WAC)
- Continuing the trend, Eborn talks to Stew about the Aggies’ NCAA chances. Unsurprisingly, he thinks USU should be in. (So do we, by the way.)
- The Lewiston Tribune’s Dale Grummert has more on the Kashif Watson kerfuffle, noting that the suspended guard has now protected his Twitter page.
- The Wall Street Journal has a brutal take on the Mid-American Conference’s competitive woes.
- The Mid-Majority talks to court-rushing gurus Marco Anskis and Eric “Extra P” Angeline in TMM’s Second Annual Floor-Storming Symposium. (Someone needs to get a Ph.D in post-game celebrations.)
MOSCOW — We are getting ready to depart for Reno and the Western Athletic Conference Tournament! This space will have much more preview stuff up throughout the day, but here’s a rundown of where the Vandals stand:
Jon Newlee’s squad has made a miracle turnaround after losing leading scorer Derisa Taleni to an injury before the first game was played. The Vandals won just two games in non-conference action, but finished .500 in WAC play to nab the No. 4 seed in Reno. They’ll take on No. 5 New Mexico State at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. We’ll go live from courtside at 2 o’clock.
Don Verlin’s second year has been a roller-coaster ride, and unfortunately much of the conference season was a downward plunge. The Vandals’ 6-10 WAC record was good for only the No. 7 seed in the tournament, and on Thursday they’ll face the No. 2 seed, a very talented Nevada squad on the Wolf Pack’s home floor. That game is the prime-time battle, tipping at 6 p.m., and we’ll go live at 5:30.
Finally, a huge thank you to all who have donated to help make this trip possible — or at least, possible without ruining my credit score! We’ll have more on that later, too.
This isn’t how Charlotte Otero hoped her senior night would be.
“It felt good to break my career high and knowing that I went out and gave it my all,” Otero said. “Of course, it would have been a lot better to have won — it was our first time on national television and we know what we are capable of, we just didn’t take it all the way.”
The Idaho Vandals fell behind early to Louisiana Tech and couldn’t pull out a win despite drawing within seven points during a 20-5 run late in the game, dropping the contest 63-56.
“Our shot selection was horrendous,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “We are not a team that can play one-on-one basketball.”
Wednesday night’s game was the last home game for seniors Otero, volleyball star Debbie Pederson, Amy Eisses and soccer sensation Anna Sandman. Pederson walked onto the team in the middle of the season and has been a steady contributor for the Vandals, while Sandman came to help with practice.
Otero, who has been the heart and soul of the Vandals in her four years at Idaho, dropped a career-high 18 points, dishing out six assists and grabbing four rebounds in her final home game.
“She was the best player on the floor on both teams,” Newlee said. “She played with a lot of heart, a lot of energy, made her shots, handled the ball and got assists, got some steals – she was all over the place.”
The Vandals got a scare early in the game when sophomore Shaena Kuehu was knocked down, hitting her head hard on the court. Kuehu remained lying on the court for half a minute as the crowd watched in muted dismay before erupting in cheers as she got up and walked to the bench, by her own power but clearly in distress.
She was forced to sit out the remainder of the first half, and much of the second before making a late-game comeback.
“I didn’t figure she would be back tonight — I thought ‘oh man, please, please let her be ready to go in the WAC tournament.’” Newlee said. “She has a huge knot on the back of her head, but lucky no concussion symptoms.”
Kuehu’s injury was followed by flat play from the Vandals, which opened the door for a 15-2 La Tech run in the middle of the first and set the stage for a 22-point lead, which was simply too big for the Vandals to overcome.
The bitter loss was partially redeemed by strong play from Bianca Cheever. Cheever played a strong defensive games, but it was back-to-back three-point shots which has Newlee excited.
“It was nice to see her make a couple of shots,” Newlee said. “There was the Cheever we saw earlier in the year — hopefully that Cheever gets on the bus and the airplane to Reno with us.”
Otero said that, while the loss stings, she is proud to have gone out in such style and been a part of the Vandal tradition.
“I’m really thankful that I had the opportunity to stay here,” Otero said. “When the coaches came in, they still stuck with me and gave me a chance — I’m just really glad to be a part of the Idaho history.”
For Newlee, the feeling is mutual.
“I’ve never had a kid practice and play as hard for as long as she has. She has done everything I’ve asked her to do and more — we are going to miss her, ” Newlee said with a deep breath and a composing pause. ” I wish I would have been here…I wish we had one more year with her.”
It’s Senior Night for the Vandal women, and they’re on national television for the first time ever. Live on ESPNU, Idaho takes on Louisiana Tech in a key battle down the stretch of the Western Athletic Conference regular season.
The Vandals have won three straight games and five of their last seven, to put them at 7-7 in the WAC — in sight of a top-half seed for next week’s conference tournament. But to get there, they’ll have to get past the always-tough Lady Techsters.
Will Charlotte Otero have a magical Senior Night in Moscow? Find out with us, as we’ll have all the action for you live, with pregame at 7:30 p.m., tip at 8.
Women’s hoops are on tap tonight, as Idaho takes on Western Athletic Conference rival San Jose State in Memorial Gym. It’s an old-school throwdown as the 7-18 Vandals face off with the 6-20 Spartans. We go live with pregame coverage at 6:45 p.m., tip at 7.