Vandal women get first round win

It was a rocky first half for Idaho which turned the ball over 11 times and seemed out of synch with some players battling illness. But as has been the case so many times in the past it was Yinka Olorunnife to the rescue with 19 points, 7 rebounds and a steal in the first 20 minutes of action. She finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds and led Idaho to a 70-59 first round win over Boise State.

LAS VEGAS – Vandal coach Jon Newlee pulled out a cliché to describe his team's 70-59 win over rival Boise State here Wednesday night to complete a three-game season sweep over the Broncos.

What he didn't say seemed obvious to the Vandal fans in attendance at the Orleans Arena: The 2010-11 Vandal women were simply a better team than BSU.

"I thought it was a heck of a basketball game," Newlee said, "and the old adage it's hard to beat a good team three times definitely had me worried. I think Boise State is a very good basketball team, extremely well coached; so coming in for the third time it was a little nervous time for me. I wondered how we would respond to the changes that both teams had made. I thought we did a great job. We didn't get behind like we did at Boise, and I thought that was a key – staying in front in the first half…the run we made to get up by 7 or whatever it was at halftime was big for us, and then to expand the lead and just keep in front.

It was a rocky first half for Idaho which turned the ball over 11 times and seemed out of synch with a handful of players battling illness. But as has been the case so many times in the past four seasons it was Yinka Olorunnife to the rescue with 19 points, 7 rebounds and a steal in the first 20 minutes of action. "She just kinda put us on her shoulders and said, 'Let's go. We'll win this basketball game,'" Newlee said. "It was great to see from a great player," the coach added.

BSU coach Gordy Presnell also lauded Olorunnife. "It felt like in the first half Olorunnife really carried them. I felt like if we had finished layups and just handled the transition from our offense to our defense, just those two areas, we would have been in pretty good shape in the first half. Then in the second half (Olorunnife) had a lot of help from her teammates. We kinda shut her down a little bit. It was a difficult loss."

Newlee was also unsure how the players who had never played in the tournament before would handle the pressure of post-season competition.

"We talked about that," he said. "We talked about Alyssa Charlston being in her first game; Jessica Graham, Ganeaya Rogers, Keri Arendse. These guys hadn't been through this. I talked to the seniors before the game about kinda taking those guys under their wing and not pressuring them - encourage them, because this was gonna be an emotional game with a lot of tension. I thought everybody really came together and made them feel comfortable, and they just did what they've been doing all year, which is nice."

The game turned late in the first half with the Vandals clinging to a 27-26 lead with 1:17 left. Olorunnife missed the front end of a one-and-one, but BSU missed a layup at the 1:18 mark and Charlston rebounded. Ten seconds later Keri Arendse found Bianca Cheever open and the senior buried a 3 to make it 30-26. Seconds later the Broncos blew another layup, Olorunnife rebounded and started the ball up the floor. The Vandals ran a give-and-go with Olorunnife passing off to Arendse and then breaking to the basket. Arendse's pass again was on the money for the layup and foul. The free throw made it 33-26 with 28.5 seconds left in the half.

Boise did not get off another shot.

The Vandals kept the Broncos at arm's length the rest of the way. Eight players wound up playing at least 10 minutes each.

Olorunnife led the way with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Rachele Kloke had 12 points, 4 rebounds and two steals. Arendse had nine, including an NBA range 3 with 1 second on the shot clock to end the first half, giving the Vandals a 46-33 lead which seemed to signal the virtual end of the game for BSU. Alyssa Charlston had a solid 8 points and 5 rebounds, Derisa Taleni and Rogers had 7 points each, and Cheever added 6 points. As a team Idaho was 50% from the floor, 47% from 3, and 74% from the line.

Rogers (7 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound and a steal) drew praise from Newlee, giving the Vandals a change of pace at point guard for Arendse who represented an outside threat and worked the ball around the perimeter, "I thought Ganeaya had a great game," he said. "I thought she attacked the rim great. That's her strength, and coming off those and getting to the rim I thought was huge for us. I thought she had probably the best game she's played for us, honestly. Maybe the Nevada game at Nevada rivaled that one, but other than in this situation and … her first WAC Tournament game she really came through big for us."

The Vandals return to action Thursday night facing Nevada at 6 p.m.




ALL Vandals Top Stories