Idaho Women win Big Sky, head to NCAA

IDAHO HEAD COACH JON NEWLEE has built a winner at the University of Idaho, as his team is headed to its third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years. This time Idaho (24-9, 13-5 Big Sky) knocked off Idaho State (18-15, 8-10 Big Sky) with a convincing 67-55 victory in the Big Sky Championship game. The Vandals will learn their seeding Monday as celebration gatherings are planned.

The Idaho women's basketball team did it again. For the third time in four years Idaho head coach Jon Newlee is guiding his Idaho team to the NCAA Tournament following a conference championship. Saturday Idaho beat Idaho State to claim their first Big Sky Championship since rejoining the conference in 2013-14. Prior to that Newlee put together back-to-back Western Athletic Conference champions, starting with a WAC championhip in 2012-13 followed by a UI record tying 28-win season in 2013-14.

It would be hard not to consider Newlee among Idaho's best women's basketball coaches in program history.

The Vandals are led by just four seniors, with post Ali Forde (6-foot-2) and guard Christine Salvatore (5-foot-11) representing the heart and soul of the team. Forde leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game, followed by Salvatore with 7.1 rebounds per game. Offensively Salvatore leads the team with 11.8 points per game while Forde is No.5 with 10.1 points per game. The two ball-hawking seniors are also No.1 and No.3 in steals on the year with 52 (Slavatore) and 46 (Forde). Salvatore also leads the team by a wide margin with 111 assists on the year.

Behind them this is a young team featuring seven freshmen and sophomores. Saturday Idaho started freshman guard Mikayla Ferenz and sophomore post Geraldine McCorkell (6-foot-0), with junior point guard Karlee Wilson (and Lewiston High product) leading the attack.

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Monday the team will watch the NCAA Tournament selection broadcast at the Kibbie Dome in Team Room C. The ESPN broadcast starts at 4 p.m. and the public is invited to join the Vandal players and coaches in watching for the announcement of their first round opponent. Fans should plan to enter through the east entrance by the weight room.

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