Vandal Women Top Pacific 61-51

After Sunday's heartbreaking home loss, the Vandal women bounced back Thursday night and beat a solid Pacific team 61-51 in Memorial Gym. With the win the Vandals improve to 3-5 on the season, and prepare for Washington State this Sunday afternoon at 2pm in the Cowan Spectrum. Inside are quotes from Coach Newlee, plus Shaena Kuehu (team best 13 points) and Alana Curtis (8 points on the night).

Game notes and summary:

- The Vandals are now 3-5 on the season; Pacific drops to 3-4 after defeating Northern Colorado by 8, Portland State by 18 and Fresno State by 14. Last year Idaho did not pick up its third win until March 1.

- Offensively the Vandals again showed excellent scoring balance led by Shaena Kuehu with 13, Charlotte Otero with 12, Yinka Olorunnife with 11, Rachele Kloke with nine, and Derisa Taleni and Alana Curtis with eight each. Taleni had to leave the game with 7:53 remaining after taking an elbow to the nose and did not return. Idaho held a 9-point lead at the time but extended it when Kuehu hit a left-handed layup from the key, then at the other end of the floor stole the ball from Andrea Swanson, drove coast-to-coast and hit another layup, giving Idaho a 13-point lead.

- On defense Idaho held UOP senior forward Amber Simmons to 14 points, including 6 free throws and just 4 of 9 from the field (0 for 1 from three-point range). Coming into the game Simmons was ranked #13 in NCAA scoring for the season with a 21.7 average.

- UOP started a front line that went 6-0, 6-0, 6-2. Idaho's Yinka Olorunnife was the only Vandal close to matching that size at 6-0, but Idaho held a 44-35 edge in rebounding, including an amazing 21-9 edge in offensive rebounds. The Vandals had 10 second-chance points to 4 for Pacific, and Idaho dominated in the paint with 26 points to just 10 for Pacific.

- Idaho had 11 steals and 16 turnovers; Pacific had 5 steals and 24 turnovers. The points off turnovers were close with Idaho scoring 20 to 19 for Pacific. Idaho held a 6-4 lead in fast break points.

- The Vandals will play their final home game of 2008 this Sunday afternoon against Washington State. Tipoff will be at 2 p.m. in the Cowan Spectrum.
Coach John Newlee post game quotes

Q: You said you wanted your team to toughen up, and they looked tougher out there today.
Jon Newlee: "Yeah, they were, and that's what we talked about in there (the locker room after the game). I said they kinda looked like a MASH unit a little bit in there. Char (Otero) is bleeding, D (Derisa Taleni) is bleeding. Yinka (Olorunife) played through strep throat tonight – sick but wanted to battle and showed a lot of heart tonight, and that's what I've been looking for. A physical game and see how we could come out, and that was nice to see."

Q: It looked like even though you were still getting pushed around a little bit they were really fighting for every rebound out there.
JN: "Yes. Yes. It's been emphasis for sure, and I thought they did a much better job tonight of getting after it and getting into people."

Q: You started racking up the fouls there a little bit. (Rachele) Kloke gets three, Yinka has three…what's going through your head?
JN: (laughs) "Well, what's going through my head is ‘Somebody else on that bench is gonna have to step up, and whoever it was gonna be was gonna have to come in and do their role, play their role and contribute. That's what we tell him. ‘You guys be ready to go.' It's not, ‘Here's six people and then the rest of you.' Man. It's all 12 of you guys; so be ready to play."

GAYLEN WOOD: It wasn't because of fouls, but how about (Shaena) Kuehu coming in for (Derisa) Taleni when she goes out with a nose bleed? She looked pretty good.
JN: "Yeah. Well, Shaena can play all those spots. She knows what she's doing out there. Once she kinda got it going she gives us a big lift when she goes like that and plays as hard and as smart as she did tonight; so it was nice to see."

Q: I think that the score got to be like five (55-50 with 3:31 left). What did you talk to your kids about there?
JN: "I told them to settle down. I said, ‘It's our game. There was three-something to go. It's still a five-point game. We've got 21 (Gretchen Tiernan) from getting open looks and bringing them back.' I said it was the threes that were getting them back in it, and we needed to shut down on the perimeter and do a better job of getting to the shooters. I said we've just got to execute our stuff. We can't just go fly off the handle, go one-on-one and try to get stuff done. It was great, the time out came at a good time because we needed to just settle down and run our stuff. Once we got back to that we got to the line…"

Q: And they didn't hit another three after that.
JN: "No. They didn't. We did a great job of getting after the shooters."

Q: How is Derisa's nose?
JN: "You know, that thing was bleeding and bleeding and it wouldn't stop…she's got a big old ice bag on it right now. I couldn't tell you. They don't think it's broken, but we'll see."

Q: Did she get an elbow on a rebound?
JN: "Yeah. It looked like elbow, rebound. I kinda missed it to. I looked down. I heard Gavin (assistant coach Gavin Petersen) yelling. ‘Stop. Stop it. Stop it.' I was looking the other way too and all of a sudden I see D down. I couldn't tell you until I see the film."

Q: That second half – you guys were up by between like five and seven for the most of the half but it just had the feel of a one-point or two point game.
JN: "Yeah. They're explosive. They're an explosive team. The beat Fresno State. They beat Portland State by almost 20. They're a quality basketball team. We knew at any time 30 (Amber Simmons) could go off. We wanted to hold her to 10 shots or less and we held her to nine. Great job by our defense tonight."

Q: To me it looked like this was your best game of the year so far. Do you agree with that?
JN: "I think Eastern Washington was better from an offensive standpoint, but I think defensively and rebounding-wise tonight was our best."

Alana Curtis post-game quotes

Q: Today you looked more confident that I've seen you in a long time. Did you work on that today?
AC: "I didn't even think about it. I just wanted to come out today and just take my mind completely…well, you know, not completely out of it but just enough to allow myself to play well. I'm starting to get the feel of it more."

GAYLEN WOOD: Do you feel this a better style for you this year than you had here as a freshmen?
AC: "Oh, yeah. This is definitely more up tempo. I mean, that really caters to my speed and athleticism well. It's definitely a better style."

Q: It looked like you had fun playing defense. Am I right?
AC: "Yeah. I have fun playing defense, offense, anything."

Q: Tonight you looked a little more ‘on,' a little more like ‘Go ahead. I dare you to come at me tonight.' Did you feel that at all?
AC: "Yeah. Definitely on defense. I was getting getting down in a good defensive stance better instead of standing straight up and letting the girl go right around me. I was just a lot more focured I think tonight."

Q: When I talked to your coach he was like, "We've got to toughen up. We've got to focus and play for a full game and not get back on our heels." You guys did just that. It seems like you guys are really adaptable this year. Are you just able to kinda take what they say and just go with it?
AC: "Yeah, because we have to. I mean, we trust them. If we don't we won't win, and we want to win. We have a completely different mind set than we did last year."

Q: That must be kinda nice.
AC: "Yeah. It is nice."

Q: Talk about the halftime. You came out good on defense, you got a lot of turnovers in the first half, went into halftime with a five-point lead. What was the locker room like?
AC: "We were pumped. We just wanted to keep it going more than anything. We never want let down. We don't want to get too complacent or else we'll come out and have a bad second half. We just came out energized and ready to go."

Q: When they pulled within five, were you thinking, ‘Oh no. Here were go again?'
AC: "Yeah I was. Those three's got them back in it, but we just held them off long enough to build our lead back up."

Shaena Kuehu post-game comments

Q: Do you feel like you're all of a sudden getting into the swing of things, you're not so much that "little freshman" any more?
SK: "Yeah. The coaches have high expectations for me, and I guess our team kinda helps me out with that being a new freshman and playing a lot. It's just a whole team effort. I think they're making me comfortable on the court, and the coaches support me too."

Q: It's one thing to play really well in the first 30 minutes of the game, but to play really well in the last 10 minutes of the game, that's a little extra special sometimes…you really played big tonight, especially those last 10 minutes. Were you nervous at all?
SK: "Well, usually at the start of a game I'm nervous and then I kinda warm up to it, but then the coaches always remind me, ‘Go out there and play hard,' and then…I've got my team behind me, and that's always a team effort. I think that we did that tonight. We backed up each other and supported each other."

Q: You were kind of a rebounding fiend out there (seven total) and you're not very big (5-9). What are you thinking of when you're trying to go for that ball?
SK: "I usually just watch where the ball heads off and that's the direction I go. I just jump and hope and pray that I get it."

Q: Are you getting clobbered around pretty hard down there?
SK: "Yes. I am, but I've gotta do what I gotta do."

GAYLEN WOOD: Did the physical practice last week help any at all?
SK: "Yes it did (laughing). This past two days it did, actually." Q: How are you fitting in at Moscow as in cold-weather wise being so far away from home (Honolulu, Hawai'i)?
SK: "Um, it's going good so far. No where near home but I've got my warm jacket."

GAYLEN WOOD: Give it a week and we'll ask you again…How about in the second half. What were your thoughts when you came in to replace Derisa when she got her nose bashed. You came in and got back-to-back layups in the crunch.
SK: "I got my rebound, went down, I saw an opening and I took it."

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