From the Official Site...
FULLERTON, Calif. - Leonard Perry has won a lot of big basketball games. He's won championships. He's been within four minutes of the Final Four.
Yet, he said, Thursday night's 63-59 Big West Conference victory at Cal State Fullerton was one of the best.
"I've never, ever been prouder of a group of kids than tonight with the way they responded and with what's on the line," Perry said.
The victory was Idaho's second in Big West action, but, as important, it kept the Titans winless in league play and alone at the bottom of the conference. Idaho is 5-11 overall and 2-5 in league, while Cal State Fullerton is 3-12 and 0-6.
It was a game of stark contracts - a game that included just 39 total points in the first half before a combined 83 in the second. It was Idaho's control of the final five minutes that was most telling.
Undaunted by a 6-0 CSF run to start the game, the Vandals recovered to take a one-point, 7-6, lead. The Titans pulled ahead once by seven but Idaho found another rally to close to within one, 20-19, on Jermery Turner's shot to beat the halftime buzzer.
"There's no technical way to explain it other than our kids really stepped up to the challenge," Perry said. "Every time Fullerton went up by four or five, we made big baskets. Big ones."
The story was the same in the second half - Fullerton would inch ahead; the Vandals could creep back. The Vandals took the lead for good when David Howell was awarded a field goal on a goaltending call with 8:50 to play.
With 1:09 to go, they'd made it a 10-point game. Turns out, they needed almost every one of those points as the Titans, desperate to win their first league game, started hitting from 3-point range.
It was enough to make the final second tense, but not enough to overcome steady - although not stellar - free-throw shooting in the waning seconds.
When Justin Logan made the last of his 14 points with a free throw with :07 left, the mini-celebration could begin for the Vandals.
The Vandals connected on just 22.2 percent of their first-half shots but, in one of their best second halves of the season, they hit 60.9 percent for a game total of 40 - again one of their better outings.
"The thing that makes our 22 percent in the first half a beauty is when our opposition shoots 29," Perry said. "We can survive nights like that when you cause your opponent to shoot 29 percent in the first half."
To do nullify the Titans, the Vandals had to take care of CSF's inside duo of 6-10 Pape Sow and 6-11 Babakar Camera - cousins from Dakar Senegal. Between them they had just 13 points - nine for Sow and four for Camera. Sow did have 10 rebounds but he fouled out and, through a gritty, determined team effort, the Vandals finished with a 38-34 rebounding edge.
"I just know that we tried to get a body on them every time the ball was shot and go get the ball with two hands," Perry said. "Our kids were able to get that into the game tonight."
Logan led the Vandals with 14 points and David Howell had 12. Moe Jenkins had a team-best seven rebounds.
The Vandals are at UC Riverside Saturday night. Tipoff is 7:10 p.m.
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