Vandal Women Beat Cal at Rainbow Wahine Classic

Guard <b>Leilani Mitchell</b> led all scorers with a 26 point performance as the Vandals (3-1), who trailed the University of California 39-33 at halftime, put together a solid second half to earn a 10-point victory over the Bears (1-2).


HAWAII-The University of Idaho women's basketball team bounced back from its first loss of the season to defeat California 82-72 in a second-round game at the Rainbow Wahine Classic.

The Vandals (3-1) trailed 39-33 at halftime, but put together a solid second half to earn a 10-point victory over the Bears (1-2).

"We played a very good team game today," Idaho head coach Mike Divilbiss said. "It was obvious we grew a great deal as a team from yesterday's loss as this was our best game of the year by far. California is a very good team, but our players worked really hard to pull out this win."

The game began with both teams playing very evenly as the first seven minutes saw six lead changes and five ties. With 13 minutes remaining in the first half and the score tied 13-13, Cal put together a 21-8 run to lead 34-21 with 5:24 remaining; the largest lead of the game for the Bears. The Vandals then put together a run of their own, outscoring the Bears 12-5 in the final five minutes of the half to pull within six points at 39-33.

"Cal came out very physical and aggressive and we weren't sure we wanted to compete that hard at first," Divilbiss said. "Something clicked in us in the final five minutes and we finished the first half strong and answered the challenge in the second half."

Idaho carried the momentum as the second half began and a Lauren Frazee jumper with 16:19 remaining in the game gave the Vandals a 43-41 lead they would not relinquish. Idaho shot out on a 33-13 over the first 10 minutes of the half and eventually would garner its largest lead of the afternoon at 70-55 with 7:37 remaining before coasting to the 10-point victory.

"I said yesterday the key to our team was defense and rebounding and our team responded very well in those two aspects in this game. We knew if we could shut them down defensively and control the rebounding the offense would take care of itself because of our talent level. We may have worn California down a little as the second half went along, but overall we played very well as a team," Divilbiss said.

Leilani Mitchell led all scorers with 26 points, hitting all 10 of her free throw attempts and shooting 4-of-6 from the 3-point line. She would also finish the game with five rebounds, four steals and four assists. Emily Faurholt was close behind, finishing with 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Jessica Summers earned her first career double-double, finishing with a career-high 15 points and 11 rebounds. Heather Thoelke finished the game with only five points, but grabbed nine rebounds, six assists and two steals and received much praise from Divilbiss for her play.

"Heather Thoelke played the best five-point game I have ever seen," Divilbiss said. "She did so much for us as our floor general. She created offensively with great cuts and penetration and she complemented that with an outstanding performance on the defensive end. Emily and Leilani played extremely well yet again and Jessica had one of the best games I have seen a freshman play."

The Vandals outrebounded the Bears 41-27 and shot 26-of-54 (.481) from the floor.

Idaho will now play for fifth-place as they will take on the Utah Utes. The game will begin Sunday (Nov. 28) at 3:10 p.m. PT.

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