|Senior Day Saturday|
MOSCOW - There's something a little extra special about senior day for three Idaho women's basketball players Saturday, as the Vandals are not only playing to send their seniors off on a winning note, but fighting to land the fourth seed in the Western Athletic Conference on the final day of the regular season.
Seniors Keri Arendse, Adrie Shiels and Ganeaya Rogers will suit up in the Cowan Spectrum for the final time in their careers, and a win coupled with a Utah State win over San Jose State later that night, will propel the Vandals (10-19, 5-8) to a fourth-place finish in the WAC despite starting the conference season with five straight losses.
"I'm just excited," Arednse said of her final home game. "It's a big game for us and I think we're going to have a lot of people there to support us. Obviously it's our last game so we're just excited to go out and get a W."
Idaho kept its hopes of the No. 4 seed alive with a 70-65 win over San Jose State on Thursday, and the Vandals have won five of their last eight games overall. Four of those five wins have come by five points or less.
"We've come together more the last part of the season, and I just want a win going into the WAC tournament," Arendse added.
The Burlington, Wash., native is three points shy of 500 in her two-year Idaho career. That shouldn't be too much to ask, considering she averages 8.8 points per game and is second on the team with 33 made 3-pointers this season.
Rogers isn't far behind Arendse, averaging 8.4 points per game while shooting 42 percent from the field on the season. She also ranks second on the team in assists (2.2) and steals (1.4). Rogers, a second-year guard from Milpitas, Calif., said playing in the Cowan Spectrum for the final time will not be a distraction, as the team is focused on just one thing.
"Beating San Jose and Hawai'i and getting a better seed for the playoffs is our whole team's main focus," Rogers said earlier in the week. Now that the first half of that is taken care of, that goal is even closer to reality.
Shiels, who spent two seasons playing at Midland College in Texas after coming to the United States from her home country of Australia, said it would be huge for the Vandals to continue their climb in the WAC standings.
"We could get fourth which would be great going into the WAC tournament," she said. "Especially after the first five games were losses in the WAC season."
Shiels averages 4.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.86 blocks per game this year. Making her seventh start of the season on Thursday, Shiels scored eight points and added seven rebounds and a career-high four blocks.
As the Vandals look to finish their drastic turnaround to close the WAC season, it should come as no surprise that one of their favorite memories was the trip that got the whole thing started, back-to-back road wins at Hawai'i and San Jose State in early February.
"I would say my favorite memory would be going to Hawai'i and getting that win this year," Arendse said. "The Hawai'i and San Jose trip, we had a lot of fun, hanging out on the beach, as well as two huge wins for us."
"I have to agree with Keri with the whole Hawai'i and San Jose trip," Rogers said. "We got to spend a lot of good time together and got two huge wins on the road."
Saturday's game tips off at 2 p.m. in the Cowan Spectrum and the trio of seniors will be honored in a ceremony before the game. Next week's WAC tournament begins March 7 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., and concludes March 10.