MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho men’s basketball suffered a loss in a home opener for the first time under head coach Don Verlin on Friday in an 80-70 setback against Wright State at Memorial Gym.
Idaho (0-1) committed 13 turnovers, missed 10 free throws and couldn’t get the defensive stops it needed against Wright State (1-0). The Raiders put the Vandals under pressure early, built a double-figure lead before halftime and never looked back in the win.
“Basically, they beat us in every phase of the game tonight,” Verlin said after the game. “They pressured us out of our offensive sets, we turned it over in the first half for easy baskets, gave them a lead and then just couldn’t ever climb back into it.”
Idaho committed nine first-half turnovers that led to 10 WSU points and early turnovers were the reason an 8-2 Vandal lead at 17:12 of the first half suddenly was a 20-11 deficit a little more than eight minutes later. During that 18-3 run, Idaho committed seven turnovers.
Wright State’s lead stayed between eight and 10 points for most of the rest of the half until a Connor Hill 3-pointer pulled the Vandals within five at 34-29 with 2:28 left in the half. Idaho forced a stop on the other end, but then gave up a steal and fast-break layup on the ensuing possession and WSU ended the half on a 6-0 run to take a 40-29 lead into the break.
Idaho shot nearly 60 percent in the second half, committed just three turnovers and played much more efficiently on the offensive side of the ball, but despite that, the Vandals never got closer than a seven-point margin because they couldn’t make the plays they needed to on defense.
“I thought we executed a little better offensively, but we just couldn’t get the big stops in the second half to climb back,” Verlin said.
Idaho shot 53.5 percent overall and 31.3 percent from 3-point range in the game. The Vandals went 19-of-29 (.655) at the free throw line and held a 32-26 rebounding margin. Wright State shot 45.8 percent overall and went 9-of-25 (.360) from the 3-point line and 17-of-19 (.895) from the free throw line.
Idaho finished the game with 10 assists, 13 turnovers, two blocks and three steals, while the Raiders had 12 assists, six turnovers and six steals.
“You’ve got to give Wright State all the credit,” Verlin said. “They came in here and did everything they needed to do to win. They had some guys step up and make some shots from behind the arc, but for whatever reason, we weren’t at the level we needed to be tonight.”
Senior center Kyle Barone led Idaho with 18 points and nine rebounds of 7-of-8 shooting, while senior guard Mansa Habeeb came off the bench for 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 26 minutes.
Forward Cole Darling led WSU with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting, while forward J.T. Yoho came off the bench and hit six of his eight shots for 17 points. A.J. Pacher and Reggie Arceneaux added 10 points each for the Raiders.
Verlin added early turnovers and missed defensive assignments led to easy buckets for Wright State, and that his team let its frustration affect its play on both ends of the floor.
“Really, they just came out here and wanted it more than we did and that was disappointing,” Verlin said. “That’s what I told the guys in the locker room. I was disappointed with how we responded tonight when we got down.”
Idaho will have more than one week before its second of three home games to start the year. The Vandals will host Montana on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. at Memorial Gym in an Idaho football-basketball doubleheader.
The Grizzlies are 0-1 after falling in their season opener on the road at Colorado State on Friday. UM hosts Minot State in its home opener on Wednesday before coming to Moscow.