|Vandals fend off Bengals|
POCATELLO, Idaho -- Connor Hill hit six 3-pointers, including a stretch of four straight early in the second half, and the Idaho men's basketball team escaped Pocatello with a 75-69 BracketBuster win over Idaho State. Idaho snaps a four-game losing streak overall and a five-game losing streak in the series against Idaho State.
Hill's flurry of 3-pointers in the second half came after a 1-of-7 first-half 3-point performance.
"They were wide open looks I just couldn't knock them down, and I was frustrated," Hill said of his first-half. "I really felt like I should have made three, four or five more, but I'm just happy to get the win. All I needed was one to go in and that's when you get in a rhythm so it was a good feeling to hit four in a row. That's what you have to do as a shooter, just keep shooting."
Idaho (10-16) led for the majority of the first half, and built its lead to as many as nine points before the break. However, a 9-0 Idaho State (5-21) run to close the half gave the Bengals a 29-28 halftime advantage.
Idaho State pulled ahead by four at 36-32 early in the second half but a three-point play by Kyle Barone followed by made 3-pointers by Hill on four consecutive possessions gave Idaho a 15-3 run that put the Vandals on top 47-39. Idaho State responded and kept it a one or two possession game until the final minute, and the Idaho lead was cut to one point on two occasions, but the Bengals never regained the advantage. Idaho went 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the victory.
Idaho shot 39 percent from the field in the game, hitting 24-of-62 shot, and 32 percent, 10-of-31, from 3-point range. The Vandals dominated on the glass, owning a 45-23 rebounding advantage and a 21-8 edge in offensive boards. Idaho out-scored Idaho State 34-11 in second-chance points. Idaho went 17-for-18 from the free throw line for the game.
"We played extremely hard," Idaho coach Don Verlin said after the game. "We had 38 missed shots and we got 21 of them back, that just shows how hard we were working."
Hill led all scorers in the game with 20 points and added five rebounds and two assists. Stephen Madison scored 19 points and added nine rebounds, while Kyle Barone added 12 points and 11 boards for his 13th double-double of the season. Seven of his 11 boards came on the offensive end.
Mike McChristian scored 10 points and added five rebounds and Denzel Douglas finished with six points and five rebounds off the bench for the Vandals.
"Denzel came in and gave us a good lift," Verlin said of Douglas. "Denzel handled his ball and executed pretty well all night long. He made two 3-point shots and did a good job rebounding the ball."
Idaho State shot 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range, but only attempted 17 3s, including one that went in as time expired.
"We did a pretty good job guarding the 3-point line," Verlin said. "You have to keep them to about five and we did a pretty good job there."
ISU's Chris Hansen led the Bengals with 19 points, and Tomas Sanchez added 18. Andre Hatchett scored 13 points and led ISU with six rebounds, an Melvin Morgan added 11 points.
Idaho out-scored ISU 26-22 in the paint and 6-4 off the bench. ISU turned Idaho's 11 turnovers into 10 points, while the Vandals scored nine points off eight ISU turnovers.
The Vandals get back into Western Athletic Conference play next week when they visit UTSA on Feb. 28 and Texas State on March 2. Idaho's season finale is March 9 at home against Seattle U.