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.