|Vandal women host Portland|
MOSCOW - The Idaho women's basketball team is set for its 2012-13 home-opener as it hosts Portland on Friday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. in Memorial Gym.
Both teams are looking for their first win of the season, entering the game with identical 0-2 records. The Vandals lost their first two games at Wyoming and Colorado, while Portland had setbacks at Cal. State Northridge and Louisville to start the season.
Idaho coach Jon Newlee started all three of his available freshman in the Vandals' last game, giving Ali Forde, Connie Ballestero and Christina Salvatore the starting nod in addition to sophomore Krissy Karr and junior Alyssa Charlston. Forde and Ballestero also started the season-opener at Wyoming, while Salvatore came off the bench and scored a team-high 11 points.
"With all those new players we have, and with freshmen it is going to be a little bit of a roller-coaster in the preseason, for sure," Newlee said. "We just hope that they continue to get better like they did from Friday to Sunday, and if they continue that growth throughout the season, we've got a chance to be pretty good. Starting three freshmen right now, just getting their feet wet at the Division I level is a learning process, and a growing process, and one that I'm going to have to be patient with as we go along."
In Idaho's game at Colorado, the Vandals improved in nearly every statistical category from their season-opener at Wyoming. The Vandals scored 12 more points than their season opener, shot six percent better overall, 11 percent better from 3-point range, six percent better from the free throw line, got four more rebounds, two more assists and two more steals. Idaho also held Colorado's field goal percentage nine points lower than Wyoming's, and gave up 16 fewer points.
Idaho leads the overall series against Portland 17-14, and took the last meeting 71-66 in Portland in the 2010-11 season.
The Pilots are giving up 82.5 points per game in their first two contests, while being out-scored by an average of 33.0 points per game. However, despite a pair of lopsided losses, Portland only gives up a -3.5 rebounding margin. The Pilots are shooting the ball slightly better than Idaho -- 34.6 percent from the field, compared to Idaho's 32.0 percent, and 28.6 percent from 3, ahead of Idaho's 25.5 percent -- but are scoring nearly 10 points per game less than the Vandals -- 49.5 for the Pilots and 59.0 for Idaho. Their 29.0 turnovers per game, significantly more than Idaho's 17.0, are a main reason for that.
"Every time we've played Portland they're very talented and they're typically a very physical team," Newlee said. "They're very athletic on the perimeter and extremely quick. They shoot the ball well and they're real aggressive defensively. We're going to have to take care of the basketball and take good shots."
Friday's came will broadcast on 840 AM on the Palouse, with online audio and video available on VandalXtra at www.GoVandals.com. Live stats will also be available, free of charge at www.GoVandals.com.