|Idaho can't find rhythm in loss|
PORTLAND – The Idaho men’s basketball team was whistled for 28 fouls, including 21 in the second half, and never found its rhythm in a 65-60 loss to Columbia in its final game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Portland on Saturday night.
The Vandals trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half before scurrying to cut the deficit to just three at 63-60 after Sekou Wiggs banked in a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left. But Columbia’s Grant Mullins buried a pair of free throws on the other end to make it a 65-60 advantage with seven seconds to play,
“Our guys battled in the second half, we just made too many errors against a team like Columbia who runs the Princeton-style, ball-control offense,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “We took a couple bad shots, had a couple fouls, made a couple mistakes and them boom, they get a 10-point lead on you and it’s a lot bigger than a normal team because they like to milk the clock.”
Stephen Madison, Idaho’s leading scorer heading into the game, was held scoreless for the first 29 minutes of the game, and fouled out after scoring seven points. Connor Hill led the Vandals with 12 points in the game and Wiggs added 11 – all in the second half – with the help of a 6-for-7 performance from the free-throw line.
“Sekou gives us a lot of energy off the bench, he’s our best guy taking it to the basket,” Verlin said. “When we weren’t shooting very well from the perimeter we needed someone to break down their defense and I thought he gave us a lift a number of times in the second half. I was really happy with the way he played tonight.”
The Vandals shot 41 percent (21-of-51) from the field in the game and 33 percent (6-of-18) from long range, while Columbia got to the free throw line 33 times in the game, making 22 of those. Idaho, on the other hand, connected on 86 percent of its free throws, but only got 14 opportunities, going 12-for-14.
“We didn’t do a good enough job of playing without fouling,” Verlin said. “You’ve got to work like crazy and now with the new rules, you’ve got to keep your hands off. We let some of our frustration hurt us.”
Joe Kammerer, making his second start in as many days, scored eight points and added four rebounds for Idaho, and Mike Scott added seven points. Wiggs and Bira Seck tied for a team-high five rebounds, but Idaho was out-rebounded 32-26.
Columbia shot 44 percent from the field, hitting 19-of-43 shots, and hit 5-of-13 3-point attempts. Both teams turned the ball over nine times in the game, but Columbia was able to take advantage for a 13-9 edge in points off turnovers.
Idaho will return to action on Nov. 27 when they visit Boise State in Boise’s CenturyLink Arena.
“We’ve got to continue to grind and keep getting better and better. It doesn’t get any easier for us,” Verlin said.