|Stellar second half brings win|
IRVINE, Calif. - The Idaho women's basketball team did everything except shoot the ball well in the first half against UC Irvine. The Vandals then corrected their first half flaw, shooting nearly 50 percent in the second half en route to a 73-55 victory on Wednesday night.
Idaho led 30-26 at the break despite shooting just 27 percent (11-for-40) from the field. The Vandals did our-rebound the Anteaters 25-21, and committed just two turnovers in the half, compared to eight for UCI.
In the second half, Idaho hit 15-of-31 shots, including 7-of-15 3-pointers, and owned a 23-14 advantage on the glass to cruise to victory. The Vandals improve to 2-6 on the season with the victory, while UCI falls to 2-6.
"We have talked a lot about second halves," Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. "I told them if we hold them to 26 points in the second half, we'll win this game."
Four Idaho players scored in double figures, led by a career-high 20 points from freshman Christina Salvatore, who went 6-of-13 from 3-point range. Her six made 3-pointers is the second most by a Vandal in program history. Three Idaho players have made seven in a game. Salvatore also grabbed seven rebounds, and added three assists, a block and a steal without a turnover. Junior Alyssa Charlston flirted with her third double-double of the season, finishing the game with 16 points and nine rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Freshman Connie Ballestero had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists for Idaho, and sophomore Krissy Karr added 11 points and a season-high nine assists.
Idaho's 73 points in the game were a season-high, and the 55 it gave up were a season-low for a Vandal opponent. Idaho shot 36.6 percent from the field, and allowed UCI to shoot 37.7 percent, but the Vandals committed five fewer turnovers than the Anteaters in the game, and owned a 20-9 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to 18 more field goal attempts for Idaho. After tying a program record with 14 made 3-pointers in a game earlier this season, Idaho hit 12 3s on Wednesday, going 12-for-26. Also impressive was a season-high 21 assists on 26 made baskets for the Vandals.
"That's exactly what we're looking for with that ratio," Newlee said. "Their traps didn't bother us tonight. We saw no surprises, and our offensive rebounding was amazing."
Sophomore Stacey Barr had five of Idaho's 20 offensive rebounds in the game, and added three points, a block and a steal off the bench. Junior Jessica Graham had five points, two rebounds and three assists, and freshman Ali Forde added four rebounds.
The Vandals jumped out to an 11 points led mid-way through the first half, but UC Irvine chipped away, tying the game with less than three minutes to play in the half before Idaho took its four-point 30-24 lead into the break. A free-throw for UCI started the scoring in the second half, making it 30-27 in favor of Idaho, but the Vandals withstood UCI's early second-half push before going on an 8-0 run midway through the half to take a double-digit lead. UCI fought back to pull within six at 52-46, but Idaho used an 11-2 run to seal the deal.
Camile Buckley led UC Irvine with 13 points and seven rebounds in the game, going 5-for-7 from the field. She was the only Anteater to score in double figures.
Many of the 281 fans in attendance were cheering on the Vandals, as Southern California natives Salvatore, Karr and Ballestero enjoyed a homecoming of sorts.
The Vandals will stay in the area to face UC Riverside on Friday. The Highlanders beat Idaho 70-57 in the Cowan Spectrum last year when UCR's TreShont Nottingham had 28 points and 13 rebounds
"We played them last year and it certainly wasn't one of our best efforts, but I think Nottingham had 28 points against us," Newlee said. "Our hands are going to be full on Friday, they are a very good basketball team."