|Vandal women advance|
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Some people say it's hard to beat the same team three times in one season, but the Idaho women's basketball team made it look easy Wednesday night, topping the Boise State Broncos 70-59 in the opening round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament in the Orlenas Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
"I thought it was a heck of a basketball game," Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. "It's hard to beat a team three times. Boise is a great basketball team. I was nervous at first to see how the teams would adjust to the changes made by the other team."
The win puts the No. 5 seeded Vandals (15-14) into the WAC quarterfinals where they will meet No. 4 Nevada on Thursday. It is also the first time in program history the Vandals have beaten the Broncos (12-19) three times in one season.
After seven lead changes in the nine and a half minutes of the game, the Vandals went ahead for good with a 3-pointer from Yinka Olorunnife at the 10:27 mark in the first half that gave Idaho an 18-15 edge. Olorunnife dominated the first half, scoring 19 of her 21 points before the break, and collecting seven of her 13 rebounds. She hit 6-of-8 shots in the first half, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. She finished the game with her 15th double-double of the season, and added an assists and a block as well.
"Just the fact that it was Boise just really pumped me up and I just came out really fired up," Olorunnife said. "I just wanted to grab every rebound and gain every possession. That really helped our team get the win."
In the second half it was senior Rachele Kloke's turn to pace the Vandals, as she had 10 of her 12 points in the second, and finished the game with four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
The Vandals also got a much needed spark from junior Ganeaya Rogers, who had seven points on 3-of-4 shooting, and three assists off the bench. Rogerss fueled a crucial 8-0 Idaho run in the second half after Boise State had momentum and the lead cut to just seven points. First, Rogers made a half-court pass to a wide-open Alyssa Charlston under the basket who converted an easy layup. After a Boise State miss on the other end, Rogers beat the defense down the court and made a lay-up of her own. On the next play, Boise State missed another jump shot, and Rogers hustled in to grab the rebound and found Derisa Taleni behind the BSU defense for another layup, forcing Boise State to call timeout. Keri Arendse hit a pair of free throws to push Idaho's lead to 59-44 with under six minutes to play, and the Vandals would lead by double figures for the remainder of the game.
Arendse finished the game with nine points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Taleni finished with seven points, while Charlston had eight points and five rebounds, and hit all three of her shots from the field. Bianca Cheever had six points for Idaho, on 2-of-4 shooting from long range.
For the second time in the last three games, the Vandals shot 50.0 percent or better from the field, as Idaho connected on 21-of-42 shots in the game, including 8-of-17 3-pointers (47.1 percent). Idaho held Boise State to just 37.9 percent (22-of-58) shooting for the game, and just 3-of-11 from long range. Boise State held a small 32-31 edge on rebounding, but grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and outscored Idaho 12-7 in second chance points. Eight of BSU's 12 second chance points came in the first half, and that, combined with 11 points off 11 Idaho first-half turnovers kept the Broncos in the game for much of the first 20 minutes, as Idaho led by just one point with 1:38 to play in the first half before closing the period on a 6-0 run to lead 33-26 at the break.
"It was big for us to get head at halftime and then to extend the lead and keep in front," Newlee said.
Idaho finished the game with 18 turnovers, while the Broncos committed 17. The Vandals shot 20-of-27 at the free throw line.
With the win, Idaho advances to the WAC quarterfinals to face No. 4 seed Nevada. The Vandals and Wolf Pack split the regular season series, with both teams winning tight games on the road. Idaho took a 61-56 overtime victory in Reno, Nev., on Jan. 6, while Nevada topped Idaho 69-63 in Moscow on Feb. 17.