|Women's hoops: 2012-13 in Review|
If the 2012-13 Idaho women’s basketball season were divided into three chapters, the first would be the story of a young and capable team that didn’t yet know how to win. The second chapter would detail a team that made every effort to reach its potential, and the final chapter would be an uplifting success story that the program hadn’t written in nearly 30 years.
Despite showing signs of excellence, the Vandals got off to a rough start in 2012-13. Idaho lost its first four games by an average of 16.3 points per game. The Vandals got their first win of the season with a buzzer-beating layup against Eastern Washington, but then lost their next two games to fall to 1-6 on the season.
Chapter two began when Idaho took a trip to Southern California to face UC Irvine and UC Riverside. The Vandals picked up a pair of double-digit victories and were beginning to learn what it took to win consistently. However, Idaho still had its setbacks, including three straight to eventual postseason participants Washington, Gonzaga and Seattle U. But Idaho had turned a corner, and showed it with a 17-point win over San Jose State and back-to-back road wins at Denver and New Mexico State that brought the season record to 6-10. After a home loss to Louisiana Tech in a game Idaho led by as many 20 points in the second half, the Vandals seemed to collectively take their game to another level for the rest of the season.
Idaho won six of its next seven games, including three out of four on the road, to establish itself as a Western Athletic Conference contender. The Vandals did lose three of their final five regular-season games, but each of those losses came by just two points, and served as fuel for their impending WAC tournament run.
Idaho earned the third seed in the WAC tournament after a 14-15 regular season and an 11-7 mark in conference play. Junior Alyssa Charlston earned first-team all-WAC honors for the second consecutive season, while sophomore Stacey Barr was a third-team all-WAC selection and Christina Salvatore was a WAC all-freshman team selection.
After a Krissy Karr buzzer-beater lifted Idaho over San Jose State and into the WAC semifinals, it was time for the Vandals to do what they hadn’t done all season – beat Utah State and Seattle U. Led by sophomore Stacey Barr’s career-high 26 points, the Vandals managed to out-score Utah State, despite a 37-point outing from USU’s Devyn Christensen, in an 84-82 win that put the team against top-seeded Seattle U in the WAC championship game.
Again, the game came down to the wire, but after a pair of desperation 3-point heaves from Seattle fell off target in the closing seconds, the Vandals were WAC champions with a 67-64 victory. The conference championship was Idaho’s first since 1985, as was the ensuing trip to the NCAA tournament. Stacey Barr, who averaged 19.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 60.6 percent from the field in the tournament, was named tournament MVP.
The Vandals were slated against eventual national champion Connecticut on UConn’s home floor in the first round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost 105-37. Nonetheless, the talented team that just needed to learn how to win back in November had transformed itself into the program’s first conference champion in 28 years through hard work and persistence. Idaho will lose just two seniors from the 2012-13 team and brings back all five of its starters in 2013-14.