|Vandals rope Broncs in 2OT|
EDINBURG, Texas – At times it was exhilarating, at times it was tense and at times it was hard to watch, but in the end, Perrion Callandret’s buzzer-beating baseline layup gave the Idaho men’s basketball a thrilling 86-85 double-overtime victory over Texas-Pan American on Thursday night in Edinburg, Texas.
Both teams had chances to seize the game in regulation and overtime, but after four Vandal players fouled out and UTPA held a five-point advantage with less than a minute to play, it appeared the Broncs would pull away.
Instead, Idaho freshman Sekou Wiggs connected on four consecutive free throws with a UTPA turnover in between, to pull the Vandals within one at 84-83 with 33 seconds to play. UTPA’s Shaquille Boga went 1-for-2 at the free throw line on the other end, and suddenly Idaho trailed by just two with the ball and 30 seconds left. Connor Hill missed a deep 3-point attempt but Paulin Mpawe was fouled while securing the offensive rebound, and he made the first of his two free throw attempts, closing the gap to just one at 84-85. Wiggs grabbed another offensive board for the Vandals off the miss of Mpawe’s second free throw attempt, and Idaho had three seconds to try to win the game. After UTPA’s timeout, Callandret drove the baseline and got the contested shot to fall with 0.5 seconds left, giving Idaho the 86-85 win.
It was a similar scenario but a much more welcome outcome for the Vandals, who had lost by two points or less in two of its previous three games, and another one-point defeat just three weeks before that.
“I couldn’t be happier, especially for the guys in the locker room,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said after the win. “When you lose games like that, they rip your hearts out, and it can be hard to get the pieces back together. Our guys hung together all night long and fought. At the end, we had four of our five starters fouled out. It’s hard to win on the road in the WAC, and when you miss as many free throws as we did, it makes it even harder. But what a great way to find a way to win and get our first WAC road win of the season.”
The win bumps Idaho to 7-10 overall and 1-2 in WAC play, snapping a four-game skid. UTPA drops to 4-13 and 0-2 in the WAC with the loss.
Hill led all scorers with 28 points on 7-of-15 from 3-point range, while Stephen Madison recorded 19 points, 14 rebounds and four assists before fouling out and Glen Dean added 13 points and four assists. Wiggs finished with 12 points, aided by a 10-of-13 performance at the free throw line. Hill seven 3-pointers bring his Idaho career record up to 180 made 3s.
“We had a number of guys play well,” Verlin said of his team’s performance. “Stephen Madison never seizes to amaze me. Sekou Wiggs did a great job, He got some big rebounds late. Mike Scott did a great job of keeping us organized. Connor Hill played well all night long. It was nice to see Perrion come in and make the big basket. We maybe didn’t play our best game of the year but we did some good things against a team that got hot on us. It was one heck of a basketball game here.”
The Vandals held a 49-44 rebounding advantage and shot 42.2 percent from the field, connecting on 27-of-64 shots. Idaho went 10-for-30 from long range but continued to struggle at the free throw line, hitting just 22-of-36 (61.1 percent) free throws.
Idaho led 1-0 before the opening tip was even tossed, as UTPA was called for a team technical foul for dunking during pregame warm-ups and Glen Dean hit one of the two free throws. The Vandals built that lead to 8-0 early on and took an 11-point, 13-2, lead with 15:29 to play in the first. UTPA, however, fought back for the rest of the first half and a halftime buzzer-beating 3-pointer pulled the Broncs within two at the break, 36-34.
UTPA scored five straight points in a two minute span near the end of regulation to take a 67-65 lead with a minute to play before Dean made one of two free throws to pull Idaho within one at 67-66. UTPA missed a layup on the other end and Wiggs secured the rebound to give the Vandals a shot at victory in regulation. Dean was fouled again but after making his first free throw to tie the game, he was unable to convert would-be go-ahead free throw and the game remained tied at 67-67. The rebound went out of bounds to the Vandals with three seconds left, but Idaho’s inbounds pass was tipped and time expired in regulation.
Neither team led by more than two points in the first overtime period, and Idaho again had a chance to win with three seconds left but Mike Scott’s jumper with a 73-73 tie was off the mark.
After trading baskets to open the second overtime, UTPA went on a 6-0 run to take control of the game, leading 81-75 with two minutes left. Connor Hill then hit his seventh 3-pointer of the game to give Idaho life before the Broncs built the lead back to five at 84-79 with less than a minute to play. That’s when Wiggs’ free throws and Callandret’s clutch shot down the stretch gave Idaho the win.
Idaho returns to action on Jan. 11 when it visits New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M. with a 5 p.m. (PT) start time. That game will be televised regionally on ROOT SPORTS.