MOSCOW, Idaho – A 52 percent shooting performance led the Idaho men’s basketball team to a 78-64 win over Northwest Nazarene in Memorial Gym on Saturday night.
Idaho junior Connor Hill matched his career-high with 22 points, including a four-point play, as the Post Falls, Idaho, native hit 7-of-12 shots including three 3-pointers and went 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
Senior Stephen Madison added 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds for Idaho and junior Bira Seck had 14 points and four boards. Senior Glen Dean had five assists and no turnovers, and scored all four of his points at the free throw line.
Northwest Nazarene’s 50.0 percent first-half shooting performance and seven 3-pointers in the game allowed the Crusaders to hang around longer than Idaho coach Don Verlin would have liked, as Idaho’s lead was just five, 46-41, with 11:56 to play. But the Vandals went on a 9-0 run over the next two and a half minutes to pull ahead by double-figures for good. Idaho led by as many as 18 points in the game.
“I knew we were going to get a good effort from Northwest Nazarene,” Verlin said. “They came out and played some zone defense for the first 20 minutes. We hadn’t seen a lot of that and it took us a while to feel our way through the zone, but once we did that we got a number of really good looks.”
NNU shot 48 percent (23-of-48) in the contest and the Vandals held a 30-26 advantage on the glass. Idaho turned 13 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points, and the Vandals scored 17 points of NNU’s 16 turnovers. Idaho finished with 11 assist and nine turnovers in the game. Idaho got to the free throw line 30 times, and converted 19 of those attempts, while NNU went 11-of-13 at the line.
“We did a good job attacking the basket, and that’s the way officials are calling the game this year,” Verlin said. “You’ve got to attack the basket, you’ve got to get yourself to the free throw line.”
Idaho freshman Sekou Wiggs connected on both of his 3-point attempts in the game, and finished with eight points and two rebounds, and junior Mike Scott had six points. Joe Kammerer and Paulin Mpawe each added four points for Idaho.
The Vandals will play nine of their next 10 games outside of Moscow – including a home game against Idaho State in Boise’s CenturyLink Arena -- beginning with three games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Portland next week, where Idaho faces Portland (Nov. 21), North Texas (Nov. 22) and Columbia (Nov. 23).