Tag Archives: WAC Tournament

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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Women outworked in semifinals

9 Mar

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.


WAC woes find men, again

8 Mar

Theo Lawson


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.

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.



WAC Tournament brackets- Men’s and women’s

4 Mar

WAC Soccer Tournament Preview

2 Nov

Sean Kramer


After a long season of highs and lows for the Idaho soccer program, it’s all come down to one thing – A  shot at the WAC conference championship.

The team is on its way to Fresno, Calif. to participate in the Conference tournament for a second consecutive season, a goal that they set for themselves at the very start of the year. While simply qualifying for the tournament for just the second time in program history could be considered a success for Idaho, this year the only aim is to come home after winning the whole thing.

“We’ve got a chip on our shoulder,” coach Pete Showler said. “It’s a chance for us to go and prove where we’re at. The girls are very well mentally prepared, very well organized. They’re up for this.”

The Vandals are seeded into the quarterfinals of the tournament. In order to be crowned WAC champions, the Vandals need to win three consecutive matches throughout the weekend. The champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Standing in their way to the finals are San Jose State and Utah State, two teams the Vandals weren’t able to beat in the regular season.

“We didn’t come out with the right mindset for those games,” starting goalkeeper Caroline Towles said. “We were a little bit off all around the field. The time around it’s gonna be a different focus. We’re focused on winning, we’re not distracted, we know what to expect this time.”

The attitude around the team is that the conference tournament is a new season, and things that have happened earlier in the year do not matter.

“Conference tournament is completely different. It’s starting fresh, every game is a must win. The attitude and approach will be that much more focused, “ Showler said. “The girls know what they’ve got to do. Things that have gone before us is the past. It’s win or go home.”

“It’s a clean slate,” Towles said. “Conference is now irrelevant at this point. Our goal was to get here, and we did that. Now it’s to win it.”

Last season the Vandals entered the tournament with momentum as the number the seed, facing a Fresno State team that qualified as the last seed. Idaho conceded early goals and never recovered, as the Bulldogs went on not only to win that game, but the entire tournament.

This year the team believes it’s more prepared for the challenges that await them.

“Last year we were really excited but really nervous and didn’t know what to think coming out for it. We didn’t really understand how important each game was” Chelsea Small said, the team’s leading goal scorer. “We want to win, because it wasn’t a fun trip home last year. This year we’re going to go into that first game knowing either we win or we go home. We really realize how important it is to take it one game at a time.”

“Last year we learned that anything could happen,” Towles added. “Going in there and knowing that we can go in and compete with every single team we play and that anything is possible.”

The message of confidence and to play within themselves is a constant one from Showler to his girls as they approach what could be a potentially program defining weekend.

“On our day we can compete with anybody and we just have to go and show that,” he said. “There’s only one thing that’s in mind and that’s to win.”