For a span in the second period, it looked like the Vandals had solved all their shooting woes. Idaho led by 12 points with under seven minutes to go and had the game firmly in control — then reality took over.
“We lost that game in the first half with our offensive execution and, once again, our missed point-blank shots,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “There were seven missed layups that we charted in the first half.”
The Vandal’s recovered from an ugly first half, where both teams combined for an astounding 42 missed shots and 19 turnovers, to get into shooting form for the majority of the second half.
The Vandal’s combined for just 15 points in the first half, but Eastern Washington didn’t fare much better, putting up only 17 points themselves.
“It was a miracle that we were only down by two at halftime,” Newlee said.
The game looked to be headed for another blowout when Eastern Washington came out blitzing in the second half to extend their lead to 24-19.
Instead, the Vandal’s tightened up defensively and turned the tables on Eastern Washington, going on a 17-2 run in the middle of the second period to put them up by 12 points with under seven minutes to go.
With the game firmly in hand, victory seemed certain, but Eastern Washington wasn’t done yet. With strong offensive pressure, the Eagles clawed their way back to force overtime in the dying moments of the game.
“It was just a meltdown,” Newlee said. “Nobody on our team took charge on the floor, nobody stepped up and led us when we had that bad stretch — that was disappointing.”
Idaho helped the Eagle’s cause with seven turnovers in the final seven minutes of the game. The flashy offense gave way to mediocre shots, which translated to the Vandal’s tallying only one shot during that timeframe.
Idaho’s Charlotte Otero had a chance to end it with two seconds remaining as she deftly maneuvered around the Eagle’s defense and went for a lay-up, but it swirled around the basket before bouncing harmlessly to the court.
Idaho’s ovetime fortunes proved to be no better, as the offense once again bogged down in missed shots, turnovers, and foul trouble.
Despite the lack of discipline, Idaho kept it close till the end. Trailing by three with three seconds on the clock, Bianca Cheever took possession, drove into the Eagle’s zone and fired off a desperate three-pointer with double-overtime on the line. It was not to be, however, as Cheever’s shot ricocheted of the backboard and time expired with both teams fighting for the rebound
Cheever led Idaho with her first double-double game and Newlee, who had said he wanted to play with depth, fielded eight players for this game.
He was rewarded with redshirt freshman Jessica Graham’s stellar play as she contributed 9 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal.
There will be no rest for the weary, as the Vandals have two days before facing off against an upstart Montana State team that downed California State University-Bakersfield in their season opener. The Bulldogs are 2-0 as they take on Brigham Young University today before facing Idaho on Sunday.