Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Jessica Graham
Second half push lifts Vandals
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 01/10/2013
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DENVER - In a back-and-forth battle, it was the Idaho women's basketball team that made the final push to escape Denver with a 68-60 Western Athletic Conference victory over the Pioneers Thursday night.

The Vandals jumped out to a 14-2 lead to take control of the game early, but Denver responded, outscoring the Vandals 26-8 the rest of the half to take a 28-22 advantage into the break.

"We had that long stretch and the altitude was really getting to a couple of our players," Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. "We started giving up transition hoops. It was a bad stretch for us without a doubt."

Denver extended its lead to 10 at 32-22 early in the second half before Idaho made another push. The Vandals cut the deficit to three with a 9-2 run that made it 34-31 with 15 minutes to play. Denver answered with back-to-back layups to extend its lead to 38-31.

Idaho wasn't done, however. The Vandals scored the next seven points to tie the game at 38-all. Idaho again tied it at 42, 44, and 47 before it took its first lead of the second half. A 14-4 Vandal run made it 61-51 with 52 seconds left, and the Vandals went 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 45 seconds to seal the win.

"You go out on the road and any win in the WAC is huge," Newlee said. "It was nice to gut this one out after the way the second half started."

The Vandals (5-10, 2-2 WAC) were led by 17 points each from junior Alyssa Charlston and sophomore Stacey Barr, and 16 from junior Addie Schivo, who went 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Charlston went 8-of-16 from the field and notched her fifth double-double of the season and second in her last three games as she added 14 boards. Barr went 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Freshman Ali Forde added 10 rebounds two points, two assists and two blocks for Idaho, and senior Jessica Graham had nine rebounds and drew a key charging foul late in the second half. Freshman Christina Salvatore added eight points and four assists for the Vandals.

"In the first half we had a little bit of heads hanging, they were killing us in transition," Charlston said after the game. "We didn't get down though, and I kept saying the small things were going to win us this game. Those rebounds by Ali Forde were unbelievable. With Jess taking a charge, Addie hitting her free throws, Stacey hitting her 3s, this was a huge team win."

The Vandals outrebounded Denver (8-8, 3-2 WAC) 50-44 and held the Pioneers to 32 percent from the field, and just 23 percent (3-of-13) from long range. Meanwhile, the Vandals went 8-of-20 from 3-point range (40 percent) and shot 36 percent from the field to help overcome 20 turnovers. Idaho went 20-for-25 from the free throw line in the game.

The win was the first for Idaho this season after trailing at halftime, snapping a streak of 10 consecutive losses when facing a halftime deficit, dating back to last season.

Denver was led by 17 points from Theresa Wirth, who went 6-for-8 from the field in 21 minutes off the bench. She also added six rebounds in the game, including four on the offensive end. Maiya Michel had 10 points and seven boards for Denver, and Kailey Edwards added nine points.

Idaho will visit New Mexico State on Jan 12 at 5:30 p.m. before returning to Moscow. That game will be broadcast online on Watch ESPN at the following link: http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/744808/idaho-vs-new-mexico-state.

The Aggies are 3-2 in the WAC and 9-6 overall after a home loss to Seattle U on Thursday night.

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