STOCKTON, Calif. – The University of Idaho men’s basketball team fell in the quarterfinal round of the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament at the hands of the Pacific Tigers Wednesday.
Idaho (17-16) trailed by just two at halftime, but Pacific (21-12) used a strong second half to pull away for a 69-59 victory.
The Tigers shot 48-percent from the floor in the second half and limited the Vandals to just 35-percent field goal shooting. Pacific turned the ball over just once and scored eight second-chance points in the second half.
“They did a good job (shooting),” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “One of the concerns coming into this game was the physical play and whether or not we were tough enough to compete. Their inside guys wore our inside guys down all night. Our interior defense just wasn’t good enough tonight.”
Mac Hopson led the Vandals with 16 points but scored just four in the second half. He also added six rebounds and three assists. Marvin Jefferson scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Terrence Simmons scored 11 points in his final game, and Kashif Watson finished with nine points.
“We played very hard,” Verlin said. “We battled all night long and I was really happy with our effort. It’s always hard when you lose a ball game and I thought this was a game we could win. You have to be good to when you come down here. They have won a lot of games here in the last 13 years. We were ready to go coming into the game, but this is a hard place to win. Pacific has great program.”
Idaho ended the game shooting just 39-percent from the floor and 39-percent from the 3-point line. The Vandals did hit 12-of-18 (.667) free throws in the contest.
The first half started slowly as the Vandals found themselves down 5-2 and were shooting just 1-of-10 from the field at the 14:08 mark. Luciano de Souza tied the score with a 3-pointer on the next possession and the score was tied on two more occasions before Idaho earned its first lead at 12-11 on a Hopson 3-point shot. The lead changed on each of the next four scores before Pacific used a 5-0 run to pull ahead 20-17 with 6:58 remaining. The Vandals fought back to tie the score at 22-22 on a Hopson 3-point play at the 5:18 mark and took the lead on a Watson free throw 30 seconds later. The Tigers scored the next four points and later earned its largest lead of the half at 29-25 with 3:01 remaining. Pacific led 31-27 a minute later before Watson trimmed the lead with a jumper. Each team turned the ball over on its ensuing possession to keep the score 31-27 at the half.
Pacific opened the second half with a basket and used a 6-2 run to build a 37-31 advantage at the 16:23 mark. The lead was six on three more occasions before a 6-0 run put the Tigers up 47-37 with 11:55 remaining. Watson hit a jumper to cut into the lead, but Pacific opened up a 56-43 margin as Idaho went nearly three minutes without a field goal. Simmons ended the drought with a 3-pointer at the 7:46 mark and spurred Idaho on a 7-1 run to cut the lead to 57-50 at the 5:57 mark. The margin again was seven after two free throws by Brandon Wiley, but Pacific scored the next six points to regain its largest lead at 65-52 with 2:27 remaining. Idaho outscored Pacific 5-2 over the remainder of the half for the 69-59 final.
Idaho ends its season at 17-16 overall; its most wins since the 1993-94 season.