MOSCOW REPORT: Women suffer stunning loss at home

With just 4 games left before the Conference Tournament, the Vandal Women's Basketball Team suffered their first home conference loss of the season, falling to Cal State Fullerton 68-65 on Thursday night at the Cowan Spectrum.

After suffering a shocking 68-65 home loss at the hands of Cal State Fullerton Thursday night, Idaho coach Mike Divilbiss used the words of author Oliver Wendell Holmes to explain the way the Vandals had just played against the ninth place Titans.

"Oliver Wendell Holmes said, ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,'" Divilbiss said. "It's real disappointing. We control the outcome of what goes on. Emily (Faurholt) said after the game, ‘You've been telling us all year coach that when we don't come and play with fire anybody can beat us.' We certainly proved that. A 4-17 team made us look not very good, but we did that. On nights when we come and play and choose to play with fire and enthusiasm we're a good basketball team. It's that simple."

The Titans played stride for stride against the Vandals and dominated play on the inside. Fullerton was 22 out of 35 (58%) on layups and shot attempts inside the paint or in the low post area compared to 39% (12 of 33) by the Vandals. The Titans also held a 59-33 rebounding edge including 15 offensive boards. On the game Fullerton shot 44% from the floor and an identical 44% on 3-point tries compared to 34% and 24% for Idaho.

The game was a battle throughout. Unofficially the game was tied 8 times and there were 13 lead changes, but Fullerton did not trail after getting an 8-footer by Melanie Mosley to lead 43-42 with 12:54 left in the game. The Vandals continued to battle and tied the game at 46 with 8:59 left, but the Titans rebuilt the lead to 6 with 5:06 left and 7 with 3:55 remaining.

Idaho refused to quit. The Vandals cut the lead to 1 on a layup and free throw by Heather Thoelke with 2:36 left, and they trailed by 2 with 12.1 seconds remaining following two Leilani Mitchell free throws. Audrey Taylor sank the front end of a 1 and 1 for Fullerton with 11.6 seconds left but missed the second. Jessica Summers grabbed the rebound. Out of timeouts, the Vandals drove down the floor against pressure but a desperation off-balance 3-pointer by Mitchell to tie at the buzzer was off the mark.

Divilbiss said he and Thoelke, a senior who has 4 regular season games left as a Vandal, talked about the problem after the game. "Heather and I were just visiting about it, and I think she's exactly right," he said. "We start the game with some enthusiasm, and then one or two plays don't go our way or something doesn't go our way and we start worrying, start thinking about the outcome of the game instead of just enjoying the game and playing hard…That's what I see. We lose our enthusiasm I think too easily…I don't know why that is, but it's a choice that we make. We make these choices."

Faurholt was asked about the Vandals' offensive problems against Fullerton. "I think part of it was we weren't getting the stops we needed defensively. I think when you get stops defensively you can run the ball, you can move, you can flow. Your offense is a lot easier because they're a little bit off," she said. "They don't have time to set up everything every time, and I think that was a big deal. We weren't getting stops. We weren't finishing possessions."

Fullerton coach Maryalyce Jeremiah was obviously pleased with the upset victory snapping Idaho's 9-game Moscow winning streak. "We only lost to Idaho by 4 points the first time we played them at our place; so it was a close game then," she said. "I think we've gotten a lot better since then. I think know this team (Idaho) as well as I know any team in the conference. I'm confident about what they're going to do. Sometimes you know some teams better than other teams, and I know these players by name and by their number and I know what they do. This is the first time in three games that Emily hasn't scored 30 points. She just puts on a clinic every time she plays us which she does a lot of times. She didn't get 30 tonight. I think this win is big for us because we desperately want to go to the tournament, and we feel like we're a good enough team to do that. This is a big win, but we had 6 to go starting with this one, and we just want to see how many of them of we can win. This is the start of the 6," she said.

The Vandals host Riverside Saturday, a team that handed the Vandals their most one-sided loss of the conference season 64-47 in Riverside one month ago. Divilbiss began preparations for that contest immediately after the post-game press conference. The Highlanders are sitting in fifth place in the conference standings. "It doesn't matter who we play," he said. "It's what we do. What are we going to control? We control our own destiny...When we bring enthusiasm and love to play the game we're very, very good. When we don't, we're very, very bad. It's that simple. This was a bad basketball game."

Faurholt led all scorers with 25 points, 2 steals and was Idaho's leading rebounder with 7. Thoelke added 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Mitchell had 9 points, 11 assists, and 5 rebounds. Jessica Summer finished with 6 points and 5 rebounds, Karly Felton had 5 points and 3 rebounds, and Stephanie Sax had 4 points. Fullerton's Amber Pruitt hit her first 4 shots of the game and wound up with 15 points to lead the Titans who got a double-double from Charlee Underwood (12 points and 17 rebounds). Andrea Adams had 11 points and Mosley had 15 rebounds.

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