|Vandals overcome mistakes in win|
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho men’s basketball team put up some ugly statistics in the box score but added a check in the “W” column with a 70-63 overtime victory over Texas-Pan American on Saturday night.
Idaho (10-14, 4-6 Western Athletic Conference) shot just 32 percent from the field in the first half, committed a season-high 21 turnovers and missed its first 12 3-point attempts, but made up for it by shooting 54.5 percent after halftime -- including a 70 percent clip inside the arc – and grabbing a season-high 50 rebounds while holding UTPA shooters to a 35 percent clip for the game.
“There must have been a lid on the basket or something,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said of both teams’ shooting performances. “For whatever reason we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. I thought we had a number of good looks tonight. I was really happy with how hard we battled and found a way to win when we did not play our best offensive game or did not shoot it very well at all.”
Idaho ended up shooting 44.3 percent for the game after going 14-for-28 in the second half and 4-for-5 in overtime, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
The win is Idaho’s second in a row and second this season against the Broncs (6-19, 2-7 WAC). The Vandals improve to 2-0 in overtime games this season, as Idaho beat UTPA 86-85 in double-overtime in the first meeting this season.
Idaho took control of the game in overtime, but it wasn’t easy for the Vandals to get there. Trailing 56-53 with 10 seconds to play, senior Stephen Madison hit a deep 3-pointer off a drive-and-kick from Glen Dean to knot the game at 56.
“Glen made a great play,” Verlin said of the pass that set up Madison’s game-tying 3. “He just pushed into our break, drove the lane, flipped it right back to Steven knowing where he was at, Steven got his rhythm, knocked it down and it was a huge play. Obviously Steve made the shot but Glen Dean made a very heads up play.”
UTPA guard Shaquille Boga got a good look at a short jumper that hit every piece of the iron before rolling out as time expired.
“Well he got a pretty good look at it,” Verlin said of Boga’s attempted buzzer-beater. “Glen (Dean) did a really good job keeping him in front, he made him take the tough shot. If he makes it we obviously lose the game so I was hoping like heck it didn’t go in. That’s what I was hoping.”
The Broncs drew first blood in overtime when Josh Cleveland made a layup on the first possession, but Idaho then used an 11-2 run to pull ahead by seven with less than a minute to play. The run was aided by a monumental four-point-play from junior Connor Hill that broke a 58-58 tie with less than three minutes to play.
“I was just really glad the ball went in the hoop,” Hill said afterwards. “I really struggled tonight but it was what we needed at that point. It was tied and I was just glad I could at least make a play that would help us win.”
Hill struggled for most of the game, going 2-of-13 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range, but finished with nine points and four rebounds.
In his final game in the Cowan Spectrum, Madison had his third consecutive 20-point game, finishing with 22 to go along with 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Sekou Wiggs added 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists and played 36 minutes despite coming off the bench. Idaho’s final two home games -- Feb. 18 against CSU Northridge and Feb .22 against Grand Canyon -- will be played in Memorial Gym.
The Vandals are on the road next week when they visit Bakersfield on Feb. 13 and Utah Valley on Feb. 15.