Outnumbered Vandals count Cougars as victory

MOSCOW _ Seven is supposed to be that lucky number all the superstitious sorts pin their hopes to. For Mike Divilbiss, the number represents the misfortune of Idaho women's basketball this season. The first-year coach has seen players get hurt, players leave and his roster dwindle to -- you guessed it -- seven players. Not so lucky, huh? </FONT>

MOSCOW _ Seven is supposed to be that lucky number all the superstitious sorts pin their hopes to.

For Mike Divilbiss, the number represents the misfortune of Idaho women's basketball this season. The first-year coach has seen players get hurt, players leave and his roster dwindle to -- you guessed it -- seven players. Not so lucky, huh?

Well, Divilbiss' luck has turned. His seven players beat Washington State and its 12 players 89-72 in overtime in front 345 fans at the Cowan Spectrum on Wednesday. The Cougars fell to 2-5. Idaho is on a two-game win streak and is 2-4.

That streak is largely due to the Vandals' play in the extra 5-minute period. The Vandals scored 20 straight points before Washington State managed to get a shot to fall in the overtime.

"How sweet it is," Divilbiss said. "It couldn't get any better than that.

"All these people who think this program is a mess right now, take that," he continued. "We've got people who want to be here, period. The people that are here are so bought in. They are really starting to believe in the system and in each other."

"The team that wanted the game more won it," said WSU coach Jenny Przekwas. "They proved from start to finish that they wanted it more. They just outplayed us."

Especially in the overtime.

Idaho's Darci Pemberton did most of the damage in the extra session. She opened the overtime with a 3-pointer and scored 12 points in five minutes. Pemberton finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Julie Wynstra also had 24 points for the Vandals, but most of her work came in regulation.

For a second or two, it looked as if the game might be won in regulation -- by either team.

With 7:29 left, the Vandals went on a 13-3 run keyed by three 3-pointers to take a 64-55 lead with 3:12 left. It was their largest lead of regulation.

Idaho's sloppy play and an improbable banked 3-pointer by WSU's Emma Joneby from the top of the arc allowed Washington State to get back in the game. Joneby, a post player who had attempted and made one 3-pointer in the previous six games, nailed the shot with 57 seconds remaining to bring WSU within two points at 69-67.

Washington State center Brittney Hawks forced a jump ball on the ensuing possession and WSU had the possession arrow in its favor. The Cougars got the ball to Francine McCurtain, and she tied it with a jumper with 51 seconds left. Neither team could score from that point and they went into overtime.

But while one team quit, the other didn't.

"Our kids learned something about themselves," said Divilbiss. "They can handle any adversity. You see very few teams let a lead slip away and then come back and dominate an overtime.

"That takes a belief and inner trust," he continued. "They have been wondering if they had that. And tonight they found out that they do."

While Idaho may have been undermanned at the start of the game, it had just enough of an advantage inside to hang in and eventually win. Wynstra had 21 of her points in regulation. She was 8 of 13 from the floor and added 14 rebounds.

Balancing her inside play was Jen Schooler and Pemberton from the outside. Those players hit six of Idaho's nine 3-pointers as the Vandals shot 43 percent from behind the arc. Coming into the game they were shooting 27 percent.

"We have been getting open looks all year and we haven't been putting them in the hole," said Pemberton. "Tonight we just did."

As for the Cougars, the interior was working when they could get the ball inside. Hawks finished with 16 points.

But Hawks picked up her fourth foul with 14:13 remaining. Without her, the Cougars were not able to control the boards with their big players and had to rely on guards to pick up the slack. That allowed Idaho to outrebound the Cougars 47-36.

Lindsey Egeland led the Cougars with a team-high 17 points.

, when the Cougars were forced to shoot from the outside, things weren't so good.

WSU's starting guards went 2for 10 in the first half and finished 6 for 27. Added to that were eight combined turnovers against nine combined assists.


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