|Comeback effort not enough|
BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho men’s basketball team nearly dug itself out of a 23-point second-half deficit, but couldn’t get over the hump in a 98-89 loss at Boise State on Wednesday.
Idaho trailed 77-54 with less than eight minutes to play but chipped away over the next seven minutes to make it a two-possession game at 94-89 with 42 seconds left. But the Broncos went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the last 40 seconds to ice the game.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “Sometimes when you get down 20 with a young team, they quit, but these guys didn’t do that tonight. We kept fighting. We showed our passion and we represented the University of Idaho well tonight and battled all the way to the end.”
The Vandals drop to 3-4 on the season with the loss while Boise State improved to 5-0.
Idaho senior Stephen Madison scored a season-high 26 points and added eight rebounds. Madison went 9-for-16 from the field and 7-for-8 at the free throw line. Senior Glen Dean added 15 points, aided by a 7-for-7 performance at the foul line and junior Mike Scott added a season-high 14 points. The Vandals shot 51 percent from the field for the game, hitting 31-of-61 shots.
Boise State, however, shot 55 percent and made 11 more free throws than the Vandals. The Broncos ranked third in the nation in 3-pointers made per game entering Wednesday’s contest, averaging 11.5, but Idaho held BSU to just two makes on seven attempts. Jeff Elorriaga, who averaged six made 3s per game, went 0-for-1 from long range against the Vandals.
“We had a game plan,” Verlin said. “We were going to take Jeff Elorriaga out of the game, because he was making six three-pointers per game coming in and averaging over 20 points per game, and we did that. We adjusted our defense a little bit, which hurt us in some areas, no question about it, but we were not going to let him get a clean look. He got one and it was against our zone, and we only played about three possessions of zone. Our guys did a really nice job there.”
The Vandals held Elorriaga scoreless, but BSU’s Derrick Marks picked up the slack, scoring 39 points in 25 minute of play by going 21-of-23 at the free throw line and 9-of-13 from the field.
The Broncos held a 35-28 rebounding advantage and outscored Idaho in the paint 54-46. Idaho committed a season-low six turnovers and had 10 assists, and the Vandals capitalized on five BSU giveaways for a 9-5 edge in points off turnovers.
Idaho will visit UC Davis on Nov. 30 before returning home to host Washington State on Dec. 7 at the Cowan Spectrum.
“I have to grow this team up, and I thought they grew up a little tonight,” Verlin said. “We got better. I’m not going to let them have a moral victory. You can’t accept that when you’re the coach of the Vandals, but you also have to build this team and I thought we got a little better tonight.”