|Fresno State outlasts Vandals|
MOSCOW, Idaho - Jon Newlee saw a lot of good in the play of the Idaho Vandals Saturday night in their Western Athletic Conference women's basketball opener against Fresno State.
He liked their execution, their poise, their shot selection, their defense - for the first 30 minutes of the game. The last 10, however, the Vandals unraveled and struggled as an 11-point lead dwindled to nothing and the Bulldogs scampered off with a 72-64 victory.
"We played a great 30 minutes of basketball - and they played 40," said Newlee, whose team lost a second player to a season-ending knee injury when Jessica Graham was injured in practice this week. "Credit to them. They're a championship basketball team. They got down but they didn't panic. They came back; kept running their stuff."
Idaho led for all but a few ticks of the clock in the first half. The Vandals opened the second half by stretching their lead to eight on Yinka Oloruunife's 3-pointer with 16:15 to go in the game. Rachele Kloke - on her way to a career-best 26 points, kept pounding away as Idaho built the 11-point lead, 53-42, with 10:19 to play.
"That was our best 30 minutes of the year," Newlee said. "We played 30 really, really solid minutes against a great two-time champion WAC basketball team. We shot the ball well tonight. We rebounded it. We just did everything well. From a defensive standpoint, we did it, too.
"It just went bad quickly."
Quickly and decisively. In the final 10 minutes of the game, Idaho was outscored 30-11. It was a Fresno State run fueled by eight Vandal turnovers and four-of-10 shooting by the host. Newlee didn't make or look for excuses.
"We stopped containing their penetration," he said of the defensive lapses. "We stopped communicating."
As for the stagnation of the offense, "There was some panic involved. ... Our guards have to be willing to bring the ball up the floor and not be afraid."
Idaho falls to 2-12, 0-1 in the WAC, while the Bulldogs improved to 11-5, 2-0.
In addition to Kloke's 26 points, three other Vandals achieved double-digit scoring on a night when they shot a collective 48.1 percent from the field and 56.3 from 3-point range. Charlotte Otero had 12 points, Olorunnife had 11 and Shaena Kuehu had 10. Bianca Cheever led Idaho's rebounding effort with seven but the Vandals lost that battle, too, 33-30.
Idaho travels to Hawai'i for a Wednesday night game before returning to Moscow next Saturday to take on Boise State.