Vandal Men 63, North Dakota 42

After making some halftime defensive adjustments, the Vandal men returned to the floor and started the second half with a 31-26 lead. About a minute later visiting North Dakota buried a 3 to cut the lead to two, but from there the Vandals launched a 12-0 run and dominated the second half on their way to a 63-42 win over the Fighting Sioux in the Basketball Travelers Classic at Memorial Gym.

The Vandals, now 3-3 on the young season, will take on Monmouth Saturday at 8 p.m. on the second night of the three-team round-robin tournament. Monmouth got 3-pointer from Will Campbell with 5.1 seconds remaining to defeat Eastern Michigan 64-63 in the first game. Eastern Michigan and North Dakota will battle at 5:30 Saturday.

"I think our defense really stepped it up in the second half," Vandal coach Don Verlin said after the game. "I thought in the second half our defense got our offense going a little bit. Our ball screen defense and our defensive intensity was phenomenal in the second half."

Idaho went with a smaller, quicker lineup against the Sioux, putting Jeff Ledbetter, Shawn Henderson, Brandon Wiley, Luis Toledo and Deremy Geiger on the floor to start the game. Verlin said, "I started (that smaller lineup) at Eastern Washington and I started it tonight. We got a little smaller, a little quicker. We played the last couple of games with some smaller guys out there. It enabled us to play a little quicker out there."

He didn't stick with it long, and wound up rotating 10 players into the game, nine getting double-digit minutes. "We had a pretty equal minute distribution tonight. I was able to get some of those guys 14, 15 minutes. I was very happy with how we played."

The play of the Vandal guards was particularly impressive against the Sioux, especially on the boards. Henderson racked up 11 rebounds for the second time this season to go along with eight points and 4 assists. Landon Tatum had a career high 7 rebounds and Ledbetter had a season high 5 rebounds as Idaho absolutely dominated the defensive glass with 32 rebounds and 43 on the game. Idaho also took 11 offensive rebounds and turned them into 15 second chance points (the Vandals chalked up 32 points in the paint).

Three Vandals reached double figures scoring, led by Geiger with 13, Wiley with 12 and Toledo with 11. Wiley also had two steals, a block, and an assist. Henderson had eight points, plus four assists and a steal, Kyle Barron had six points and three rebounds, Tatum had four (plus four assists and two steals), Ledbetter with three plus a team high five assists, Stephen Madison three and Ledbetter, Djim Bandoumel and Joe Kammerer two. Kammerer's field goal represented his first points at Idaho, while Bandoumel also had an assist and two blocked shots.

Verlin said the tournament, the first at Idaho in several years, was designed to help his players get used to playing up to three games in consecutive days, which they would face should they make the finals at the WAC tournament in March.

"First of all I want to thank President (Dr. Duane) Nellis and (athletic director Dr.) Rob Spear for helping us have this tournament. It's a huge advantage. There's probably only 15 of these in the country and we're hosting one of them. It really helps you from a standpoint that it prepares you for the WAC tournament in March. It's the only time on your schedule where you play three games in three days, and the best part about that is these three games are at home. We don't have to travel to get three games in; so it's really good for all aspects of our basketball program for scheduling balance but to prepare us."


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