MOSCOW, Idaho—With Saturday’s game dubbed “Ali Forde Day,” the sophomore post-player dominated the floor, leading the Idaho women’s basketball team to a 79-51 victory over New Mexico State at the Cowan Spectrum.
Forde, who scored a career-high 20 points against New Mexico State last season, recorded a season-high 16 points against the Aggies in the first go-round of the season. Forde in just 23 minute of action finished three blocks shy of a triple-double, setting a new career-high with a Cowan Spectrum-record seven blocks. Forde earned her third double-double of her career, finishing with 10 rebounds.
“Ali was awesome tonight,” head coach Jon Newlee commented. “She was patrolling the paint, taking charge in there defensively. Offensively, we told her that if she got the ball inside she was going to be able to score tonight.”
“I was told that my mom was not going to come today,” Forde explained. “She showed up right before the game and I looked over and she was yelling ‘Ali, Ali,’ and I got this huge smile on my face. From there I just really wanted to play well for my mom.”
Idaho (11-7, 4-0 WAC) opened the game on a 17-0 run, putting the game out of reach for New Mexico State in the first five minutes of play. Defensively, the Vandals held the Aggies to a 0-of-13 start from the field.
“I was happy with that start,” Newlee added. “I thought it was key in the game. I thought we learned our lesson on Thursday [against UTPA]. Both teams I think are similar in their style. New Mexico State runs a bit more dribble-drive and are extremely well coached. I knew we were going to have to come out and play some defense to win this game.”
The Vandals are now 4-0 in conference play for the first time since the 2003-04 season and are off to their best conference start since 1981-82 when they finished undefeated in the North West Empire League.
Idaho snatched a season high 61 boards, out-rebounding NMSU 61-47. The Vandals snagged 48 defensive rebounds, holding the Aggies to just five second-chance points. Senior Alyssa Charlston added two blocks on the day, helping Idaho swat nine shots, tied for sixth most in team history.
Every player that got on the court for the Silver and Gold recorded points on Saturday. Junior Stacey Barr recorded her 11th career double-double. She finished the night 7-of-13 for 16 points and added 10 boards. Charlston put in 13 points in 24 minutes of play. Christina Salvatore finished the day with seven points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
“We wanted to keep pushing the tempo,” Newlee explained. “We thought we could get some things in transition. I think our posts did a good job running the floor, getting things closer in and opening it up on the outside.”
After taking a 23-point lead into the intermission, the Vandals emptied out the bench in the second half. The four Idaho reserves totaled 25 points. Senior Addie Schivo gave Idaho its biggest lead of the game with her layup at the 6:15 mark of the second half, 69-37. Schivo finished with a bench-high eight points.
“With the lead we were able to do a little more,” Newlee said. “We were able to get Connie [Ballestero] a little rest. She was tired after playing forty minutes on Thursday. Being able to rest her and get Agueda [Trujillo Fernandez] more game minutes along with Brooke [Reilly] and Maren [Austgulen] is only going to help us down the road.”
Brooke Reilly tied her season-high with nine rebounds. She finished with seven points off the bench.
New Mexico State (4-12, 1-2 WAC) was led by Danesi Williamson and her game-high 21 points. Sasha Weber contributed 10 points and six rebounds for the Aggies.
The Vandals will hit the road next with games at Utah Valley, Jan. 16 and CSU Bakersfield Jan. 18. Idaho returns to Cowan Spectrum on Jan. 23 when they matchup against Grand Canyon.