Senior Alyssa Charlston and junior Stacey Barr combined for a total of 51 points to propel the University of Idaho over Nevada, 88-77 in the first game of the Jon Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic at Lawlor Events Center on Friday night.
Charlston posted her fourth double-double of the season and 23rd , finishing the night with 28 points and 10 rebounds. She finished just two points shy of her career best.
Barr, the reigning Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week, recorded her third 20-point game of the season. She finished the night setting a new season-high 23 points. Barr made a season best five baskets from long distance, missing only three.
“I thought we did a great job of keeping our composure,” head coach Jon Newlee said following the win. “There was a lot of adversity in that first half with foul trouble, kind of going cold and their big kid was really dominating inside. I thought we battled to get ahead and then again in the second half when they took the lead. For us to come back like we did showed a lot of guts. We showed a lot of heart tonight on the road and that is what it takes to beat good teams on the road.”
Sophomore Ali Forde returned to the basketball court Friday night having missed the last four games, finishing out the volleyball season. Forde came off the bench and recorded 11 points for the Vandals. Her return was more than welcomed in the rebounding column. Forde finished with eight offensive boards and season high 10 rebounds total, helping her to her second career double-double. Forde also tied a career high, dishing out four assists.
“It is so nice having Ali back,” Charlston commented. “Maren [Austgulen] has been doing a great job coming in for her. We rely on Ali a lot for offensive rebounds and deflections in the post. She works so hard and motivates us. She is such a hard worker it is great having her back out there.”
The Wolf Pack opened the second half by jumping out to a 55-51 lead in the first seven minutes. The Vandals never fell more than six points behind in the second half. Trailing 57-55 Idaho put together a 10-0 run in just over a three minute span. Charlston notched five points over the frame and freshman Karlee Wilson hit a three pointer to break the tie at 57. Idaho never relinquished the lead for the remainder of the game.
Idaho (4-2) opened the game shooting 7-for-11 (.636) from the field, but faltered in the waning minutes of the opening half. The Vandals finished the half shooting 15-of-40 (.375). The second half was a different story when it came to shooting. Idaho was 15-of-32 (.469) and 6-of-11 (.545) from beyond the arch.
Nevada (3-3) was held to just 11 field goals at the first half. They were aided by shooting 12-of-17 (.706) from the free throw line, compared to Idaho’s seven first half attempts.
Sophomore Connie Ballestero fell one assist short of tying her career high. Ballestero led the team with a season best 10 assists. As a team Idaho recorded 26 helpers, the most this season.
“Our goal is to get 20 assists a game,” Newlee stated. “I feel like with the kind of players we have, everybody can score when they get in. When we are distributing and sharing the basketball like this it is a total team effort. That is what we are looking for.”
The Vandals will take the floor at the Lawlor Events Center for second straight night on Saturday. They will play at 7:30 p.m. PT against either Cal or Wake Forest.