|Nevada ends Idaho's WAC run|
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The Idaho women's basketball team got the start it wanted against Nevada in the Western Athletic Conference quarterfinal on Thursday night, but the Wolf Pack responded with a dominating second half performance to end Idaho's run in the WAC tournament with a 75-61 win over the Vandals.
Idaho (15-15) shot 55.2 percent in the first half, hitting 16-of-29 shots, while holding the Wolf Pack (21-9) to just 37.5 percent (12-of-32) as the Vandals built a 36-29 halftime lead.
But the second half was a different story. Nevada came out on fire and shot 65.2 percent on 15-of-23 shooting in the half, and locked down Idaho's offense, holding the Vandals to just 34.5 percent shooting in the second, as the Wolf Pack outscored the Vandals 46-25 in the second half to get the win and advance to the WAC semifinals.
Tahnee Robinson, a first-team all-WAC selection, led the second-half charge for Nevada, scoring 22 of her 35 points after the break, as she finished the game hitting 12-of-19 shots, and had six rebounds and two steals.
"I thought we played pretty well in the first half," Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. "I thought the first half went the way we wanted it to, I thought three quarters of the game went the way we wanted it to. Give credit to Nevada, they're a good basketball team, they're extremely well coached, and Tahnee Robinson is a great basketball player. I'm disappointed that we couldn't stop her, but a lot of people haven't stopped her."
Idaho had only two players play off the bench in the game, as Derisa Taleni, who had started all 29 games prior to Thursday, was hospitalized with a kidney infection shortly before the game.
"I thought our players went out and just kept at it," Newlee said. "They hung in there, but they just ran out of gas. Our roster is obviously depleted with Derisa in the hospital. That's no excuse, Nevada didn't have (WAC Defensive Player of the Year) Shavon Moore. I think if we would have had a little extra depth, we would have been right there at the end."
The Vandals led for most of the first half, and the first ten minutes of the second half, until an 11-0 Nevada run gave the Wolf Pack a four point 55-51 lead with 9:36 to play. The Vandals answered, and were able to pull ahead 59-57 with under seven minutes to play, but a 5-0 Nevada spurt put the Wolf Pack ahead for good.
Idaho senior Yinka Olorunnife had her 16th double-double of the season by halftime, as she had 14 points and 10 rebounds at the break, and finished with 23 and 15. She also added four assists, two steals and a block, and played all 40 minutes. Along the way, Olorunnife tied her own Idaho WAC tournament record with 15 rebounds, and broke her school single-season rebounding mark of 310, by bumping her season total up to 317. She previously set the mark in the 2008-09 season.
"Our team was sick, and it's hard playing back-to-back, but that's what you have to do to win the tournament," Olorunnife said. "We battled well but it caught up with us at the end of the game."
Freshman Alyssa Charlston had 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting for the Vandals, and added three steals as she played 36 minutes in her sixth start of the season. Rachele Kloke had nine points for Idaho, Keri Arendse had eight, Jessica Graham had four, Bianca Cheever had three, and Ganeaya Rogers had two to round out the scoring for the Vandals.
Idaho gave up a 33-31 rebounding advantage to Nevada, and turned the ball over 15 times. Nevada, meanwhile, committed 14 turnovers in the game, and held a 14-10 advantage in points-off-turnovers. Idaho had assists on 16 of its 26 made field goals in the game.
While Idaho's WAC tournament run is over, the Vandals are still a candidate for the Women's Basketball Invitational, a 16-team postseason tournament. An official announcement on the WBI will be made March 14.