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WAC preseason polls announced, Idaho too low

24 Oct

Madison McCord | Vandal Nation
Junior forward Stephen Madison throws down a dunk before the Black and Gold Scrimmage Friday.

The preseason suspension of Idaho center Kyle Barone must have really hurt the Vandal men’s basketball team who have been picked to finish sixth and fifth in the coaches and media polls respectively.

The Vandal women’s team also slipped lower than we projected finishing fifth and sixth in the coaches and media polls respectively.

Three bright spots did arise from the polls though for the Vandals, with three players receiving all-WAC honors. For the men, Barone was picked as a first-team member in both polls after finishing last season as a second-team all-WAC selection. On the women’s team, junior forward Alyssa Charlston was a first-team selection in both polls, while sophomore guard Krissy Karr received second-team placement in both. Continue reading

WAC Tournament: Idaho Women vs Fresno State

10 Mar

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

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Vandals survive, advance to semi-finals

7 Mar

Kevin Bingaman


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.”





WAC Tournament: Vandal women optimistic for first round

6 Mar

Kevin Bingaman


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.



Vandal Women v San Jose State – Post Game

1 Mar

Idaho falls to first place Fresno State

17 Feb

Kevin Bingaman


A season-high 55 percent shooting performance was not enough to upset first place Fresno State when the Vandals fell 76-68 Thursday night on the road.

Idaho coach Jon Newlee said coming into the game his team would have to take care of the ball, but that didn’t happen. The Vandals (8-18, 3-7 WAC) turned the ball over 27 times, leading to 17 second change points for the Bulldogs (21-4, 9-0 WAC). The game gives Idaho its second straight loss.

Idaho had a less than stellar start in the first half, falling behind early. But the Vandals found a way to come back, as they have done all season, and went on a 13-3 run to go into the locker room down by just six with the score 38-32.

The second half remained close. Half way through the period the Vandals went on a run that ended with sophomore Jessica Graham hitting a layup that gave the Vandals a one point lead with score 57-56, but it was quickly erased.

The Bulldogs countered with a 13-1 run of their own to retake the lead, which they never relinquished. The Vandals got close on several occasions, but Fresno State was able to hit their three-throws down the stretch and take the victory.

Senior Ganeaya Rogers led the Vandals with 15 points while sophomore Alyssa Charlston pitched in with 14. Freshman Stacey Barr rounded off Idaho’s top scorers with 12.

The Vandals are in need of a few more conference wins to get a better seeding for the WAC tournament, which starts in less than a month. Idaho still has a shot at fourth place.

The win kept things rolling for Fresno State and keeps the win streak intact. The Bulldogs are all alone atop the conference standings with a perfect 9-0 record. Nevada is the only team in striking distance of Fresno State.

The Vandals will continue the road trip when they travel to last place Nevada on Saturday. The Vandals will be looking for revenge after Nevada beat them earlier in the year. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Vandals women v New Mexico State – Post Game

10 Feb