|Vandal women top San Jose State|
MOSCOW - Just one second-half turnover and four double-digit scorers helped the Idaho women's basketball team earn a 70-65 Western Athletic Conference victory over San Jose State in the Cowan Spectrum Thursday night.
Three Idaho players finished the game with four assists, and the Vandals had 16 as a team compared to a season-low six turnovers, while shooting 42 percent from the field en route to the team's fifth win in its last eight games. Idaho improves to 10-19 on the season and 5-8 in the WAC while San Jose State falls to 11-17 overall and 6-7 in the league.
"That was the key to the game, taking care of the basketball," Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. "Giving up transition layups when we turn it over has been our problem this year. We made San Jose earn what they got tonight, and we wanted that to happen. We had to take care of the basketball and I thought we made good decisions with the basketball tonight."
Senior Keri Arendse led Idaho with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a steal, while freshman Tayler Weiks also scored 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Freshman Stacey Barr finished with 11 points and five rebounds, and Ganeaya Rogers scored 10 points and added four assists, a block and a steal. Freshman Krissy Karr had four assists, six rebounds and a steal.
Idaho can clinch the No. 4 seed in next week's WAC tournament with a win over Hawai'i in the regular season finale on Saturday coupled with a SJSU loss at Utah State.
"It's really exciting, we're in a really good position going into the WAC tournament," Weiks said. "We're just going to bring it like we did tonight."
Idaho's win comes despite being short-handed. Junior Jessica Graham is day-to-day after rolling her ankle in practice earlier in the week, and sophomore Alyssa Charlston, Idaho's top scorer and rebounder, was ill and didn't play until the second half, when she scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in four minutes. Charlston had scored in double-figures in 15 consecutive games, dating back to Dec. 30, 2011, before Thursday.
"It was kind of surprising, like 'Oh, she's back,'" Weiks said of Charlston's second-half return. "She's a really big contributor and always a person out there who keeps us motivated. For her to come out there, it really meant a lot to us."
"Like I told them before the game, we've got to go with the people who are here," Newlee said. "Everybody here is a Division I basketball player, everybody is here on this basketball team. No matter who is here and who is not, the people that are ready need to step up and everybody's got to do just a little bit more."
Idaho led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but the Spartans were able to cut that lead to five, 37-32, going into halftime. San Jose State tied the game for the first time at 47-all with 13:23 remaining, and led by three at 52-49 before the Vandals pieced together and 8-0 run to pull ahead 57-52. San Jose State fought back to tie the game at 61-61, but Idaho scored the next seven points and sealed the 70-65 win.
"Everybody contributed in their way," Newlee said of his team. "Rebounding, hitting some big shots. Stacey (Barr) playing the post out of position. She's a physical kid, and if anyone's going to get after it in the post that hasn't been playing there, it's going to be her."
Idaho hit 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) 3's in the game and just 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) free throws. The Vandals, who entered the game with the league's second best field goal percentage defense, held the Spartans to 36.7 percent (22-of-60) shooting. SJSU owned a 46-37 advantage on the glass, but each team grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and Idaho outscored the Spartans 16-15 in second chance points.
The Vandals forced the Spartans into 14 turnovers, and converted those into 16 points, while San Jose State scored only 10 of its points off Idaho's six turnovers.
Idaho blocked seven shots in the game, led by four from senior Adrie Shiels, who also added eight points and seven rebounds. Ashley Walters also had two blocks, six points and five rebounds in the game for Idaho.
Depending on Saturday's results, Idaho could finish anywhere from No. 4 to No. 6 in the WAC tournament. With a Vandal win Saturday over Hawai'i, Idaho's seed will depend on the outcome of SJSU's game at Utah State. If the Spartans win Idaho will be the No. 5 seed but if they lose Idaho will climb up to No. 4. With an Idaho loss the Vandals will get the No. 6 seed.
Saturday's game begins at 2 p.m. in the Cowan Spectrum and is Senior Day for Arendse, Rogers and Shiels, who will be honored in a ceremony before the game.