Idaho's rebuilt men's basketball team, led by junior guard MARIO MACKEY, played a Top 25 team for the second consecutive game (Idaho lost to Gonzaga Sunday afternoon), and fell tonight at #13 Washington 87-66 in Seattle. The Vandals held a 27-24 lead midway through the first half, but the Huskies dominant post-play eventually was the deciding factor in UW's victory.
's back court led the charge for the Vandals as guards Mario Mackey
and Keoni Watson
accounted for 34 of Idaho's 66 points in the game. Senior guard Watson led Idaho with 19 points in 27 minutes of play, including going 4-4 at the free throw line and shooting 75% (3 of 4) from behind the arc. Junior newcomer Mackey shot 50% from 3-point range (4-8) and 5-of-11 from the field. Mackey also recorded 2 steals on the night.
"What I thought Keoni did tonight better than he's ever done before, is he did a tremendous job of getting in the paint and kicking out and finding people," Idaho head coach George Pfeifer
said after the game. "And he's just a gladiator as far as the defense. The zone we were running is largely predicated on him covering lots of different places, and running in lots of different areas. I thought he was everywhere for awhile."
Individually, true freshman forward David Jackson
(6-8, 200) had another solid game for Idaho as he played 25 minutes, scored 6 points (2-2 from free throw line), and blocked 2 shots in the game.
Forward Clyde Johnson
(6-7, 205), a JC transfer out of Northeastern Junior College, recorded 9 points on the evening and had a block in the second half that earned a collective "Ahhhh" from the Husky partisan crowd.
Despite UW's clear size advantage, Idaho was impressive at times tonight, and in particular in the play of the backcourt. There is no question that this team has made significant gains this off-season in overall team speed and shooting skills, and true freshmen Jackson and O.J. Avworo
(a 6-0 guard out of Houston) continue to be bright spots for the future of this program.
Overall, this completely rebuilt Idaho team featuring 10 first-year Vandals showed some grit against a talented Husky team. It's been a tough 3-game road stretch for Idaho, but the team gets a home game this weekend in a rematch against Southern Utah Saturday in a 7:05pm PST game at the Cowan Spectrum (Idaho's first home game at the Spectrum this season).
"One of the things I'm most pleased about with our guys is we are staying the course," Pfeifer said. "I think there was a time 10 or 12 days ago where there were cracks, and we talked a lot about that. We've got Southern Utah at our place now, and they beat us [a couple weeks ago]. We didn't play as well as we could, and now we're going to see if we're really getting better."
But when the Huskies began working the post, Idaho struggled for answers. Washington
star forward Quincy Pondexter
led all scorers with 25 points (most coming in the second half, including 10 points in a 4 minute stretch), including 9-of-14 shooting from the field. Husky bigs Jon Brockman
and Spencer Hawes
added 7 points each, with Brockman blocking 2 shots on the night. The Huskies recorded 24 more rebounds than the Vandals (50 rebounds, compared to 26 for Idaho). Even more glaring, Washington grabbed 23 offensive rebounds on the night, while Idaho was able to record just four in the game.
Clyde Johnson's second half block.
"We know what our weaknesses are, we don't have to play here to find them," Coach Pfeifer said. "We've played stiff competition with a lot of inexperience. But, I really think our guys competed the whole night. I don't think anyone can say we weren't scrappy. When balls were on the floor I didn't see the Vandals standing around. In fact we got called for a foul diving on the floor for a loose ball, so that's the kind of problem we'd like to have."
Pfeifer continued. "In a couple weeks we get a 6-10 kid to be eligible [Darin Nagle
]. What's hurting us right now is the absense of Mike Kale
, a 6-9, 235-pound center. So right now we're missing our potential 4- and 5-man starters, and in the development of our program that's difficult. Andrew Madsen
(6-6, 252) played his butt off tonight, and he's a walkon."
"We'll get better. We've got a great fall recruiting class. We've got good kids in here who are trying really hard to figure out what it is we're doing. We need to win, there's no question about it. We need to find some ways in the month of December to knock some Ws out."