RENO – Idaho shot the ball well on the road at Nevada on Saturday, but turnovers and free throws again gave the Vandals fits in a 76-68 Western Athletic Conference loss to the Wolf Pack.
Idaho slips to 8-8 overall and 1-4 in WAC play, while Nevada moves to 11-7 and 3-2 in the conference.
Idaho turned the ball over 16 times, which resulted in 18 Nevada points. Idaho didn’t miss a free throw, but only attempted five. Nevada, on the other hand, went to the line 31 times and converted 21. In a game where nearly every other stat was even, Nevada’s trips to the line proved the difference.
Idaho shot .450 from the field and made nine of its 23 attempts from 3-point range for a .391 clip, while Nevada was .490 from the field and .357 from the 3-point line. Idaho out-rebounded Nevada 36-29, outscored the Wolf Pack 32-30 in the paint and 21-7 in bench points.
Senior guard Mac Hopson led the team with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while senior Steffan Johnson added 13 points and sophomore Luiz Toledo had 12 on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Redshirt freshman Kyle Barone started his second career game and led the team with a career-high nine rebounds, along with four points.
The Vandals jumped out to a 21-11 lead at the 10:14 mark of the first half after spreading the ball and using a balanced attack, but Nevada jumped back into it and outscored Idaho 25-9 over the remainder of the period to go into the break leading, 36-30.
Idaho came out at the start of the second half and exchanged baskets with Nevada, but the Vandals couldn’t regain their early-game rhythm and fell behind by double digits. Idaho came on strong in the closing minutes, but couldn’t capitalize when the Wolf Pack made its free throws late.
Idaho will return home next Saturday for the start of a three-game homestand. The Vandals will face Utah State on Saturday, Jan. 23, then host Boise State in a nationally-televised game on ESPNU on Monday, Jan. 25, and close it out against Fresno State on Thursday, Jan. 28.