Vandal Men's hoops drops 6th in a row

<b>Anton Lyons</b> led the Vandals to a blazingly fast start and wound up with 20 points shooting 69% inside the arc on the night. But Long Beach State used an effective half-court offense to chip away at what had been a 9 point Idaho margin, taking the lead at the 11:34 mark of the first half and defeating the Vandals 71-58 on Senior Night at Memorial Gym, Idaho's sixth straight loss. Among the 1,349 in attendance were former Vandal Coach Don Monson and announcer Bob Curtis.

Lyons scored the first 6 points of the game and 11 in the first 16-1/2 minutes of play and the Vandals made their first 6 field goal attempts in a little the first 4:09 and finished shooting 44% from the floor on the game compared to 42% for Long Beach, but the Vandals made only 3 of 12 3-point attempts (25% and 9 of 22 free throws (41%) compared to 46% and 74% respectively by the 49ers.

The game was also the final home appearance for Anton Lyons who had 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. Senior Matt Anderson got his first start and picked up an assist on Lyons' first bucket of the game. Senior Armend Kahrimanovic did not start his final home game because of injury. All are scheduled to graduate this May, Tanoris Shepard (11 points,2 assists and a rebound) is also a senior but should gain an extra year of eligibility if he graduates in May.

Coach Leonard Perry said the Vandals, who have now lost 6 straight, are not maintaining their defensive intensity throughout the entire game and are paying the price. "Guys are trying in spurts, but we can't turn it on and off, he said. "We can't play well for 2:30 or 2:45 and then think we've got it figured out and relax defensively in terms of blocking out, containing penetration, fouling. All of those things catch up with you. Every single time you relax it catches up with you."

Jones offered his opinion on the Vandals' problems: "Defending and rebounding. Last year that's what got us into fourth place in the conference. This year that's what started us as a top three team in the conference, but lately we've just missed that defense and rebounding…I think guys let the offensive end dictate how they're going to play the game. If their shot aren't falling, they get down on themselves and they get lackadaisical on defense, but when the shots are falling everyone's playing defense really well," he said echoing a comment made earlier in the year by Perry.

Lyons also blamed defensive lapses saying, "We didn't defend the way we should. That's what it boils down to. On the halfcourt (offense) set they kept running that roll. We kept getting caught on it and they were able to get angles to the basket. We've got to give ‘em credit. It's embarrassing. It hurts, especially to go out my senior year with a loss at home in front of the fans. I thought we were ready. Our guys were focused for the game and somehow we just collapsed on the defensive end…we had a little push at the beginning of the second half but they were just executing down the stretch and they stayed with it. They were able to get to the foul line. We were missing free throws."

Lyons was also asked about his blazing start. "I just wanted to come out ready go, give my team a boost. Hopefully that would give everybody confidence. My teammates were finding me. I was just letting it go."

Perry was asked if lack of depth is contributing to the problem. "I'm just not big on excuses. Yeah, fatigue is a part of it, but fatigue is a part of everything. I'm not into excuses. We're either getting it done or we're not getting it done. Yeah, it's a long year, we're limited (in depth). Guys are logging big minutes, but that's what every player tells you in recruiting: ‘I want to play a lot of minutes. I want to play.'…For whatever reason, as the head coach this year I haven't been able to get this team to defend the way we have win some of the games that we've been in. Some of them have been awfully close. Some of them have not, but that's my responsibility. I have no excuses other than to tell you I'm going to right this ship."

"Losing is frustrating," he continued. "It's disappointing. It's disheartening. Sometimes you have a group that's just not used to fighting through adversity, plowing through it no matter what it is…As a team we've been very poor at it this year. There have been nights where I don't really think we've gotten over the previous loss. I think it's carried over in the game after that. It's a part of life for young men. I hope that they're able to close their eyes when this is over and look back and see some things they could have done differently, maybe (something) in practice that could have carried over into games. I know I do hourly."

Before speaking with the media, Perry paused to visit with Monson. Asked if Monson had any advice or encouragement, Perry said, "Words of encouragement, ‘just hang in there.' His son Dan went through the same thing last year and the year before and got the ship righted. I still don't believe we're that far away. This ship will be righted. There's no question about it. I feel great about the kids who are coming in…Right now I'm going to focus on Utah State. That's all I can do. We'll go and fire a shot and see what happens after that because it's out of our control."

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