MOSCOW, Idaho – Brayon Blake came up huge for the Vandals yet again, getting the game-winning jumper to fall with one second to play as Idaho took down Southern Utah on senior night, 78-76.
Idaho was aggressive out of the gate, with Arkadiy Mkrtychyan leading the way to 13 points and seven boards in the first half. The Vandals were able to build a nine-point lead, but the Thunderbirds fought back to take a four point advantage at 28-24. Idaho closed the half on a 12-1 run to take the 36-29 lead into the break.
After a quick burst from the Vandals to open the half that saw the Idaho lead balloon to double digits, Southern Utah took control. The Thunderbirds were able to get up by as many as six, and held a five point advantage at 70-65 with under three minutes to play.
Blake and Victor Sanders stepped up from there. Blake knocked down a pair of free throws, followed by a triple and two free throws from Sanders to put Idaho up two. Blake gave Idaho the five point advantage the next trip up the court, knocking down his second 3-pointer of the night.
A pair of 3-pointers from Southern Utah, sandwiched around a free throw from Sanders, leveled the score at 76 with 11 seconds to play. Sanders brought the ball up, pulling up for a contested 3-ball that went begging.
But Blake was there, as he has been all season, corralling the rebound and getting off a tough jumper that found the bottom of the net with about one second to play.
Victor Sanders. Sanders finished with a game-high 28 points, connecting on 9-of-16 from the floor and 6-of-12 from range. He also had a game-high four assists.
Sanders also had the moment of the night, donning Perrion Callandret’s number one jersey for the game.
Idaho finishes the Big Sky season 14-4, earning the #2 seed in Reno. Southern Utah falls to 5-13, taking the #10 seed.
Idaho is now 10-0 on senior night under Don Verlin.
Mkrtychyan recorded a season-high 15 points. Sanders topped 20 for the 15th time this season, while Blake recorded his 11th double-double of the year. Idaho is 10-1 in those games.
Sanders moves into seventh on the single-season scoring list with 569 points.