Madison was an efficient 12-for-15 from the field and 9-for-10 at the free throw line and added six rebounds, two assists and a block. Freshman Sekou Wiggs finished with 16 points for Idaho, senior Glen Dean had 10 and senior Joe Kammerer added five rebounds.
”Steve played great,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “I thought not only did he play great scoring 34 points but he made the big plays when we needed them. I thought there were a number of times he came up with a big basket, the big rebound, the big defensive stop. I couldn’t be happier for Steve to finish his career out here at Idaho at home like this.”
Idaho led by two, 34-32, at halftime and midway through the second half went on a 14-6 run to lead by as many as 16 at 68-52 with 8:50 to play. But the ‘Lopes wouldn’t go down easy. Grand Canyon held Idaho without a field goal in the final 6:41 to climb back into the game, cutting Idaho’s lead to as little as five on two occasions. Idaho, however, went 7-for-10 at the free throw line in the final 73 seconds to seal the victory.
“It’s never easy for this team,” Verlin said. “We made plays when we needed to. I would like it to be a little bit smoother but we got it done and you got to be happy about that.”
The Vandals improve to 12-16 on the season and 5-8 in Western Athletic Conference play with the win, while GCU falls to 13-12 and 8-4 in the WAC.
Grand Canyon got 26 points from Jerome Garrison, 22 from Daniel Alexander and a 14-point, 20-rebound double-double from Killian Larson.
The Vandals shot 44 percent from the field and held the ‘Lopes to 39 percent. Idaho held a 40-39 rebounding advantage and forced GCU into 14 turnovers. Idaho has now scored more than 80 points in three consecutive games.
Idaho got to the free throw line 35 times, one shy of a season-high, and converted 25 of those attempts. Meanwhile, Grand Canyon went 16-of-27 at the line.
“One of our keys to them game was shooting more free throws than them,” Verlin said. “One thing that Grand Canyon does a great job of is drive the ball to the basket and getting fouled and we felt like we needed that to be our strength tonight.”
Idaho visits Seattle U on March 1 then wraps up the regular season at Chicago State on March 6 and Kansas City on March 8. The WAC tournament is March 13-16 in Las Vegas, Nev.