BOISE, Idaho – Idaho closed out the non-conference portion of the schedule on Thursday night, falling to UC Irvine, 67-59, at CenturyLink Arena in the Vandal Holiday Hoops Classic presented by Delta Dental.
It was a back-and-forth contest for most of the first half, but UC Irvine was able to put together a run late to take the 34-28 lead into the break.
The Vandals came out strong in the second half, scoring five straight to close the gap to just one point less than three minutes in. After going shot-for-shot over the next long stretch, the Vandals were able to level the score at 38 midway through the frame, but couldn’t get over the hump. The deficit stayed fairly consistent over the next seven minutes, with Idaho staying within a bucket but just not managing to reclaim a lead.
UC Irvine was solid in the closing minutes, not allowing the more than 4,000 screaming Vandal fans effect the outcome. The Anteaters closed the game hitting their final eight free throws, including six in the final 46 seconds, to claim the 67-59 win.
Idaho had a rough night shooting the ball, finishing at 36.1 percent from the floor (22-of-61) and 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from 3-point land. Idaho was outrebounded for just the third time this season, losing the battle of the boards 42-39.
Victor Sanders led the way offensively, finishing with a team-high 17 points. Brayon Blake added 11, while Perrion Callandret finished with 10.
Brayon Blake. Blake recorded his fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds. He also added three assists, tying his career high.
Blake also brought the energy all night, igniting the crowd when the Vandals needed it the most.
Idaho finishes the early season at 8-4, tying for the most early season wins since Don Verlin took over. Idaho also had eight early season wins in the 2015-16 season, when the team would go on to finish 21-13, the best record in more than two decades.
Blake recorded his fourth double-double of the season and fifth of his career. It is the first time the Vandals have lost when he records a double-double.
See linked video for comments from head coach Don Verlin.
The Vandals return to action on Friday, December 29, with Big Sky play kicking off at North Dakota. Check back with GoVandals.com next week for more information on the game.
BOISE—The Vandal women closed out the non-conference season with an exclamation mark in front of a packed crowd at CenturyLink Arena. Junior Taylor Pierce led the way with a career-high 29 points, despite battling a cold. Fellow Splash Sister, Mikayla Ferenz finished the night with 21 points, as the Vandals scored a convincing 84-70 win over Eastern Oregon.
Ferenz jumped two spots, passing Kelli Johnson and Susan Woolf on Idaho's all-time 3-pointer list. She now is fourth in program history with 209 career 3's. Pierce remains in third with 226 career triples.
How it Happened
Idaho (4-7) did not get a quick start to the contest. Eastern Oregon led for a majority of the first quarter, getting out to a 16-10 advantage at the 3:46 mark. Idaho shot just 7-of-21 in the opening quarter but used a key 3 from Pierce to help close the quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 20-16 lead.
Eastern Oregon (12-2) tied the game at 21 with a quick 5-0 early in the second. Pierce and Ferenz hit 3's on back-to-back possessions to put the Vandals back up by six. Idaho grew its lead to 12 off a Pierce 3 in the final minute. The Vandals shot 6-of-16 from the floor in the second, leading 43-32 at the half.
Isabelle Hadden, Idaho's lone Boise native, scored the first four Idaho points in the third to give the Vandals the 46-32 lead. Pierce hit four 3's in the quarter, with her final shot from deep widening the Vandal lead to 66-43.
The Mountaineers were able to get some points back in the fourth, outscoring Idaho 18-11 in the final quarter. Maya Ah You-Dias scored 11 points in the quarter for Eastern Oregon, trimming the Idaho lead down to 14 in the final seconds.
Hadden finished with eight points and six rebounds. Ferenz totaled eight boards and handed out four assists. Geraldine McCorkell led the team with 13 rebounds to go with her eight points.
Idaho broke out of its recent shooting slump on Thursday. The Vandals worked through the first half and shot 60.0 percent (12-20) in the third quarter. Idaho finished the night 41.1 percent from the field (30-73). The Vandals got its groove back from 3, hitting double-figures for the first time in since playing Cal-State Fullerton on Dec. 4. Pierce finished with seven 3's as the team totaled 11 on the night.
Head Coach Jon Newlee
On playing in Boise
"It was great. We loved seeing that crowd. We don't get that kind of crowd for our games in Moscow. To have that environment for our kids—they were so excited. It was great for us to be able to come down and showcase our team to all the alumni, boosters and fans that are down here that don't get a chance to see us play. It was great. It was a fantastic experience."
Junior Taylor Pierce
On playing in front of the Vandal crowd in Boise
"I heard a lot from the coaches and Issy (Hadden), being from here that the crowd was going to be great. I saw some articles about how they want us to play down here more. It was really awesome to see those fans come out. It was a really great turnout and the energy was awesome."
Sophomore Isabelle Hadden
On playing back in Boise for the first time
"I wanted to play well in front of my friends and family. There was a little bit of extra motivation. I was definitely a little nervous at the beginning but once the game started and we got into the flow of things my nerves definitely settled."
Idaho has now hit a 3-pointer in 305 consecutive games…Idaho used its third different starting lineup tonight, seeing Natalie Klinker get her first career start….Idaho's 84 points marked a season-high…the Vandals 73 FGA were the most this season…Idaho totaled a season-high 49 rebounds…EOU made an opponent-low four free throws.
Idaho kicks off the Big Sky season after a short Christmas break. The Vandals will be back in Cowan Spectrum against North Dakota on Dec. 28.
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