COMMENTARY: The Vandals raced out to a 10-3 lead four minutes into the game but hit a road block as Louisiana Tech shot the lights out from three-point range (five of ten in the first half) to post a 35-27 halftime lead. The taller, quicker Lady Techsters threatened to turn the game into a route opening the second half as they outscored Idaho 13-5 to build an 18-point lead, 50-32 with 11:44 left in the game. Fortunately for the largest, most vocal crowd for a women's game in the Cowan Spectrum this season there is no quit in the Vandals. The defense stepped up and pressured the Lady Techsters while the offense started to click sending the Vandals on an amazing clutch run that came within an eyelash of pulling off the victory.
Down by three with 47 second left Idaho's Charlotte Otero buried a three to make it 56-53 Techsters. After La Tech missed a layup and Yinka Olorunnife rebounded the Vandals were fouled and Derisa Taleni sank two free throws with 14.1 seconds left to make it 56-55. On the inbounds play Otero stole the ball from Tiawana Pringle and passed to Taleni who was fouled in the key. Taleni made the first free throw to tie it, missed the second, grabbed the rebound, and came oh-so-close on a mid range jumper with 3 seconds remaining only to see the ball rattle off the rim to send the game into overtime. In the extra period the Vandals, playing their first overtime game of the year, tried to continue the frenzied pace with which they closed out regulation time only to see La Tech hit two quick buckets, and the visitors never again trailed eventually posting a 67-63 win.
Remarkably, Idaho held LA Tech scoreless the final 4:20 of regulation (mounting an 11-0 run), and the first 1:39 of overtime.
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER STATISTICS:
Yinka Olorunnife 21 points, 11 rebounds. 1 assist, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal (her second consecutive double-double and fifth on the season) playing all 45 minutes. Shaena Kuehu 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block; Derisa Taleni 11 points, 10 rebounds 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 blocked shot (her second double-double of the season) in 43 minutes; Charlotte Otero 7 points, 7 assists, 3 steals, 2 rebounds playing all 45 minutes; Alana Curtis 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist; Rachele Kloke 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal; Liz Boyden 1 steal.
• FIELD GOALS: Idaho 21 of 56 for 37.5%; LT 28 of 70 for 40%The Vandals will return to the Cowan Spectrum for a Sunday matinee game against New Mexico State at 2 p.m. The Aggies lost to Boise State Friday night.
• THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS: Idaho 5 of 18 for 27.8%, LT 7 of 20 for 35%.
• FREE THROWS: Idaho 16 of 20 for 80%; LT 4 of 8 for 50%
• REBOUNDS: Idaho 6 offensive, 31 defensive for 37 total; LT 13 offensive, 31 defensive for 44 total.
• ASSISTS: Idaho 14, LT 11
• TURNOVERS: Idaho 17, LT 17
• BLOCKED SHOTS: Idaho 4, LT 4
• STEALS: Idaho 9, LT 9
• POINTS IN THE PAINT: Idaho 24, LT 28
• POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: Idaho 11, LT 9
• SECOND CHANGE POINTS: Idaho 4, LT 14
• FAST BREAK POINTS: Idaho 0, LT 4
• BENCH POINTS: Idaho 5, LT 4
• SCORE TIED : Three times
• LEAD CHANGES: Three
• ATTENDANCE: Announced 512
HEAD COACH JON NEWLEE, post-game comments
Q: That's a disappointing loss for you especially after such a great comeback to make it to overtime. What turned it around there in the overtime do you think?
JN: "In the overtime? In the overtime we took bad shots to start the overtime. I told the kids…you know, we haven't been in an overtime game yet. It kinda felt like, I think to them, that they had to score right away. Five minutes is a lifetime out here. We just rushed a couple of really bad shots. They knocked down a couple, and we were fighting from behind again."
Q: A little bit before the midway point it looked like La Tech really had a pretty solid transition game going. You got down deep in a hole. How did you stop that and start making that comeback?
JN: "I thought finally defensively we started doing what we had been practicing for a week. We had a lot of breakdowns defensively in the first half, not getting out to shooters, not keeping our hands up on the perimeter, and I think they made us pay for it by shooting the ball well from the arc. They're big and strong inside, and we didn't get the help we needed, and you saw the result: 35 points in the first half, 21 in the second is a big difference."
Q: It looked like you guys used the break well. It looked like you had a few new little things on offense and different screen setups and it looked like the kids were running them pretty well. Is that accurate?
JN: "Yeah, I think so. We ran some new stuff and I thought we did a pretty decent job with it, but they were too loose with the ball in the first half too. A couple of turnovers to easy buckets for them, and we talked about not giving them points in transition, and that really hurt us in the first half as well."
GAYLEN WOOD: When you were in comeback mode in the second half it looked like La Tech had a lot of trouble handling your press, having trouble getting the ball and taking care of the ball. Was that a surprise?
JN: "Yeah. It surprised me. They're very quick, and obviously we're not really a pressing team; so to do as well as we did with that, I thought, was definitely surprising. Nice to see, you know, but also it's really not our game."
Q: Talk a little bit about Yinka (Olorunnife). It didn't seem like she was throwing up too many shots and now she's got 21 points.
JN: "She had a great first half. She was the only one that kept us in it in the first half. I thought she was attacking them hard, getting to the rim, finishing at the rim. There was a long stretch in the second half where she kinda disappeared a little bit for us. Other people were stepping up. We're a team, and other people had to step up. That's what we talked about at halftime, of not one person being the show. I thought we shared the ball better in the second half and more people got involved. We have to have five people involved that are on the floor, not just one person playing hard like Yinka was."
Q: It seemed like when they started slowing down that's when you guys really attacked. Is that kinda what happened the whole game? Were they outplaying you guys, just a little faster than you guys or what?
JN: "They're faster than we are. There's no question about that. They're faster than we are, they jump higher than we (do) and they're more physical than we are, but we started playing our game in the second half and I think the pace became our game, and that's when we started making a comeback."
Q: Talk about being down 18 with 11:44 left. A lot of teams would have been thinking, "Okay. Let's pack it in," but the body language was never really down. No heads were down. It was just "taking care of business." Talk about that mind set.
JN: "It is. We talked about it at the time outs, that we just had to keep coming back. We had to fight and we had to battle and we had to show some heart. I said if anything, you're not going to leave here embarrassed. We had a great crowd I thought tonight and I said, ‘You can't leave here being embarrassed. You've gotta leave it on the floor, no matter what's going on - You've got to continue to play hard,' and I think they did a great job of never quitting, obviously, and making a big comeback. Unfortunately the hole was just a little bit too big."
Charlotte Otero, post-game quotes
Q: What happened to be all of a sudden 18 points down with 11:44 left? What was going on there?
CO: "I don't know. I think we just really decided we needed to step up. We saw La Tech kinda let up, and they were really happy with their lead and they just kinda let up; so we had to take advantage of that and attack. Everyone really stepped and kept taking it to them."
Q: Did your coach call and time out and say ‘"e need to go in and get steals. This is what you need to do to get back in it." Or how did that happen? CO: "He told us to pick up full court, put pressure on them. Try to get steals as much as you can. I think everyone did that and we played really hard defense. We don't really work on that that much in practice; so it was like time for us to just step up and play with some intensity."
Q: About what point in the game did you think, "Wow! We could actually come up and win this thing?"
CO: "I think in the last like probably minute. I was just like, ‘Okay. Let's go. We've got this. We've got this.' The whole we were like, ‘You guys, you know we can get this. Let's just keep playing hard, keep attacking them, and eventually our shots are gonna fall.' That's all it was. We just kept attacking and everything kept going in for us."
Q: So that last minute…what was going through your head to keep still and make sure they didn't score, and yet you guys stay on top and keep going?
CO: "We just need to keep our composure. Get the ball on offense and execute on defense. Get stops, get rebounds, and just do what we should have been doing the whole game pretty much."
Q: Before we ask you about the overtime part, how exciting was it? What that moment of going into overtime after such a spectacular comeback?
CO: "We just knew, ‘Okay. This is our chance. We have five minutes. They're tired. We can keep running and keep attacking them and keep doing what got us back in the game."
Q: What turned it over in that overtime?
CO: "I think we rushed too many shots at the beginning. We were acting like it was the end of the game. We still had five whole minutes to play. They hit some lucky shots at the end and just on the wrong end of it again."
Q: How was it to go through that up and down (emotionally), down by 18, then up with a chance to win, then down by three with less than 30 seconds to go?
CO: Yeah. We just played with energy. That's all it is. Once everyone realized ‘We can do this you guys, let's go and keep attacking.' (heavy sigh). It's really a disappointing loss, because we worked really hard, but we have to let it go and we have another game on Sunday."
Q: What did you guys talk about in the locker room there at the end of the game?
CO: "Just we should have done it the whole game. We had way too many spurts where we just let up and we got down on ourselves once we got in a hole. We dug ourselves a hole. Once we realized, ‘Let's keep going…this is our house. We've got to try to do what we have to do.' After the game it's just really frustrating and disappointing, but we have to keep turning around because we still have another game coming up."
Q: There was a pretty nice crowd tonight. Did you guys feel that?
CO: "Yeah. When we first came out, it was just like, "Okay. All right. People are starting to turn out again.' It feels good. It feels nice to have people here.
Yinka Olorunnife, post-game quotes
Q: First of all what a fantastic comeback you guys made to push the game into overtime. Have you been involved in something like that before?
YO: As a Vandal? I don't remember. Maybe one time. I doubt it. I don't think so."
Q: 18 points is a lot of ground to make up…what was going through your mind set to push that comeback?
YO: Well, there was a period when we were down 18 there was no energy. They were making everything. We weren't making anything; so everything was just…our body language, you could tell. It almost looked like we had given up. Just motivating each other. There were like five minutes left. That's a lot of time. I think just by motivating each other and then realizing ‘This is our home court. We need to take this. Let's finish strong.' That's what we did and improved but not all the way to the end."
Q: It was a fantastic finish getting into overtime. Did you guys feel pretty energized?
YO: It's exciting when you play games like that, especially with the comeback. It's really exciting. We all felt it, and we thought we had that game. Unfortunately we didn't, but it's confidence."
Q: What happened in the overtime?
YO: "The overtime? I don't know. We battled, but they were able to make more shots than we made pretty much."
GAYLEN WOOD: Do you have any thoughts on the slow start you guys had.
YO: They were making like every three. We can't have starts like that, because the start predicts how the game's going to be, and today it predicted how the game was going to be. If we come out strong…that's what we need to do pretty much."
Q: Do you want to talk a little bit about your own performance today? You had 16 in the first half and then kinda slowed down in the second half.
YO: "I think the first few minutes I don't remember taking a shot. I don't know. I played well the first half. I should have played as strong as I did the second hall, not all the way to end and waited. I was tired. My energy was a little low too, and that was caused only five points in the second half."
Q: Were they doubling up a little bit more and pushing you around more in that second half?
YO: "Pushing me, yeah, a little more, but still I like physicality. Just go hard ourselves."