Courtesy: Ilya Pinchuk (Moscow, Idaho)
|MBB pulls away from CWU|
MOSCOW, Idaho – Central Washington scrapped and kept hanging around, but a late surge gave Idaho men’s basketball the separation it needed in a 92-75 exhibition victory on Friday in front of 1,133 fans at Memorial Gym.
Four Vandals scored in double figures on the night, led by sophomore Connor Hill’s 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Senior center Kyle Barone started the game, hit seven of his 11 shots and scored 16 points, while junior Stephen Madison added 16 and senior Wendell Faines scored 15.
After the game, Idaho head coach Don Verlin said Barone’s suspension for a team rules violation is over and that Barone will be a full participant moving forward this season.
“He’s done everything he’s had to do,” Verlin said of Barone. “He’s gone through the legal system and now he’s back on the team full-time and we’re glad to have him back.”
Idaho had a clear size advantage entering the game, and that edge became more apparent as the game wore on. The Vandals outscored the Wildcats by 20 in the paint, 48-28, and held a 44-31 rebounding margin. Idaho’s four primary post players, Barone, Faines, junior Marcus Bell and freshman Ty Egbert, combined for 40 points on 16-of-23 (.696) shooting.
“I thought Ty Egbert came off the bench and showed some athleticism,” Verlin said. “Marcus Bell rebounded the ball very well, and then we had four guys get in double figures, so I thought we did pretty well.”
Bell finished with a game-high 12 rebounds, while Barone added eight and Faines had six.
At the guard spot, senior Mike McChristian scored eight points and dished up five assists with just two turnovers. Junior Stephen Madison had four assists in addition to his 15 points, while junior Denzel Douglas added two points and two assists.
The Vandal men shot 56.9 percent from the floor, including an 18-of-29 (.621) clip in the second half. Idaho also connected on five of its eight second-half 3-pointers and finished the game shooting 53.8 percent from long range.
Junior Mark McLaughlin led CWU with a game-high 28 points on 9-of-23 shooting, while Jordan Coby added 14 points on a 5-of-10 shooting day. Only two other Wildcat players scored more than six points in the game.
As a team, CWU shot 39.1 percent from the floor and 39.3 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats stayed within striking distance by virtue of their 11 made 3-pointers and 22 points off Idaho’s 16 turnovers in the game.
Using a smaller, quicker lineup, CWU put on a lot of pressure and earned several transition buckets, especially before halftime. Verlin said he was happy with the way the team adapted, but that those issues need to be closed down.
“They were hard to match up with in transition, Verlin said. “We did a lot better job in the second half of getting those transition spots stopped and then we didn’t turn it over as much. In the second half, we adjusted to their smaller lineup and did better.”
Idaho held two seven-point leads early in the game, but saw them dissipate quickly after CWU transition buckets. It wasn’t until the 14:38 mark of the second half that Idaho started to pull away for good. A 13-0 run that started with a Hill 3-pointer and ended at 12:38 with a McChristian trey gave Idaho a 67-53 lead that dipped into single figures just three more times in the final 10 minutes.
“I got a group in there that quit making mistakes,” Verlin said of the run. “We play along pretty good, then make three or four mistakes in a row – turn the ball over, wouldn’t get in the right spot, missed a screen or missed a defensive assignment. What happened was we got a group for about six- or seven-minute span that played really solid.”
With the exhibition season gone, the real games begin, starting in one week when the team hosts Wright State on Friday, Nov. 9, in its home opener at Memorial Gym and 7:05 p.m. (PT).