COMMENTARY: The Vandal women put a disappointing overtime loss to Louisiana Tech behind them Sunday afternoon crushing the New Mexico State Aggies 70-49 in a record-setting WAC matinee game at the Cowan Spectrum. The win boosted Idaho to 7-10 overall and, more important, 4-2 in the WAC, their best start since joining the conference four seasons ago.
The 21-point win was the largest margin of victory in a conference game by a Vandal women's team. Yinka Olorunnife pulled in 19 rebounds, a career high, tops in the WAC this season and tying a record for most rebounds in a women's game at Idaho set in 1989 by Kay Koppelman of Gonzaga. Olorunnife also had four blocked shots, a career best. As an added bonus the win gave Vandal coach Jon Newlee his 100th victory as an NCAA Division I coach.
The Vandals dominated the game at the outset racing out to an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes, but the Aggies responded by scoring the next 13 points to take a two-point lead with 9:05 left in the half. Amazingly, the Vandals turned right around and ran off 13 unanswered points of their own in a six-minute span and eventually settled for a 34-26 halftime lead. Idaho put the game away for good cranking out another 13-0 five-minute scoring run and led by as many as 26 points before Newlee cleared his bench at the end of the game.
Idaho put 4 players in double figures led by Olorunnife's 17, Derisa Taleni with 16, Shaena Kuehu with 13 and Rachelle Kloke with 11. Tabytha Wampler paced the Aggies with 10 points (eight in the first half).
VANDAL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS:
Yinka Olorunnife 17 points, 19 rebounds (career high, tops in WAC for 2009, ties UI home floor record), 4 blocked shots (career high); Derisa Taleni16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists. 1 blocked shot; Shaena Kuehu 13 points. 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot; Rachelle Kloke 11 points, 3 assists, 1 steal; Alana Curtis 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists; Charlotte Otero 5 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds; Liz Boyden 2 points. Amy Eisses, Emily Doran, and Anna Sandman also saw playing time.
• FIELD GOALS: Idaho 26 of 61 for 42.6%; NMSU 19 of 71 for 26.8%The Vandals will be idle Thursday and will host Hawai'i next Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Cowan Spectrum.
• THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS: Idaho 6 of 19 for 31.6%, NMSU 4 of 10 for 40%
• FREE THROWS: Idaho 12 of 16 for 75%; NMSU 7 of 10 for 70%.
• REBOUNDS: Idaho 9 offensive, 36 defensive for 45 total; NMSU 14 offensive, 28 defensive for 42 total.
• ASSISTS: Idaho 9, NMSU 12
• TURNOVERS: Idaho 9, NMSU 8
• BLOCKED SHOTS: Idaho 6, NMSU 3
• STEALS: Idaho 3, NMSU 0
• POINTS IN THE PAINT: Idaho 28, NMSU 8
• POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: Idaho 9, NMSU 5
• SECOND CHANCE POINTS: Idaho8, NMSU 4
• FAST BREAK POINTS: Idaho 4, NMSU 2
• BENCH POINTS: Idaho 13, NMSU 13
• SCORE TIED: Once
• LEAD CHANGES: Four
• ATTENDANCE: 366
Head Coach Jon Newlee, post-game quotes
Q: First thing, congratulations on your 100th career NCAA win.
JN: "You know, I heard that as I was walking off. I was, like, ‘Really?'"
Q: You didn't know that coming in?
JN: "No, no."
Q: That's kind of cool.
JN: "Yeah. That's very cool."
Q: Talk a little bit about the team play and then about Yinka (Olorunnife's) big game today.
JN: "Well I think defensively we did such a great job on their perimeter game, and that was our focus. We said, ‘We've got to shut the perimeter down.' La. Tech, we were trying to shut down the inside and now we've got to turn around in a day and really get a game plan going. I thought our players did a great job of digesting it and then executing it out here today."
Q: I was a little surprised, I knew they had a good perimeter game, but they have three or four kids that are really tall and pretty athletic, and yet you dominated in the paint today.
JN: Yeah. They've got big kids and they are athletic. There's no question. I'm not sure that they're the scorers that they need to be, but they were early. They went in and I thought 33 (Tabytha Wampler) made some good shots and hurt us a little bit, but we still were going to make those guys beat us, not (guards Madison) Spence and (Danisha) Corbett and (Tyshae) Walton."
Q: Something you did twice in the first that we haven't really seen you do – you put together two really impressive runs – one at the beginning 11-0 and I know New Mexico came back; then I think you had another 13-0 run. We haven't seen that from you guys.
JN: "No, no. That was something new. I'll agree. It was nice to see, but finally we were making consistent decisions on the offensive end, I thought, and combining that with stops, that how you get runs. I thought our decision-making offensively was very good tonight."
GAYLEN WOOD: Underneath it looked about half way through the first half like New Mexico just disappeared. They were not a factor on the boards, especially offensively in the second half. Can you comment on that?
JN: "I think they were taking a lot of threes; so there were a lot of long rebounds. I think that's one thing, and that's what we told our guards at halftime: ‘You guys have got to rebound. You can't leak out and try to run until we get the ball; so I think that happened. I thought Yinka just kinda took over inside the paint on the defensive end, for sure."
Q: Is that just because of the good fundamentals that she has about blocking out and really creating her own space?
JN: "I think she did. She did. She really got into people tonight. We talked about (the fact that) they were going to be physical, that you've got to shove back, and I thought she did a great job of being physical with a very physical front line."
Q: What made the big difference between today and Friday?
JN: "I thought we had better decisions with the ball. Defensively we did a much better job of getting out to the three-point line and defending. Against La. Tech we emphasized stopping the post players, but that didn't mean we didn't want to guard the arc. We didn't do a good job of getting our hands up on the arc. Today it was something that we emphasized on Saturday and in shoot around that we've got to get a hand up on the arc. I thought they did a great job. We watched film. I had ‘em in there Saturday, and we just went over and over again the times that La. Tech shot with no hand up, and that was our big emphasis today, and I thought we did a great job of that."
GAYLEN WOOD: Totally subjective: This looked – to us who've only seen you at home – like this was your best game at home of the year.
JN: "Oh, yeah. For sure, I think, probably since Eastern Washington when I thought we played really well over in (Memorial Gym) in that game, but we haven't had a good solid 40 minutes really like we had tonight."
Q: Talk about scoring balance – four players in double digits and everyone was getting it done tonight.
JN: "Yeah. Everyone was getting their touches. I thought Alana (Curtis) only had six points but I thought she took some really good shots, made a couple big ones. (Rachele) Kloke busted out a little bit with some prodding to get aggressive and do some things. I thought this would be a good game for her because of the way they defend. I thought she might be able to get some points; so she did, and Derisa (Taleni) was doing good, and she just missed a couple of chippies, really. Without those she's got 20 herself tonight. Yeah, it's nice to be balanced, and Char (Otero's) just being unselfish. She passed up some shots tonight that she'll probably get down the line."
GAYLEN WOOD: Turnovers looked really reasonable?
JN: "Oh yeah. Yeah. Nine turnovers. I'll take that every night."
Yinka Olorunnife, post-game quotes
GAYLEN WOOD: What do you for an encore [regarding 19 rebound performance]?
YO: "I didn't think…you know those, you know you feel like you did something really amazing? I didn't feel like I had 19 rebounds. I knew I was boxing out well. I knew I probably got double digits but…19. I'm still stunned."
GAYLEN WOOD: Do you send word of stuff like this back home (Windsor, Ontario, Canada)? Do they listen to your games?
YO: "I think some of them do. Some of them like to watch it on line, too. I don't talk to many of them. I only talk to like my coaches back at home and my family. I know some of my friends like to watch it on line."
Q: When I walked in here and was watching New Mexico State warm up I noticed they have some tall, really athletic people and it was going to be another big battle again for you tonight, yet you seemed to control it very well.
YO: "New Mexico, they are more of a guard team. Yes, they do have posts, but…not that their posts are not good or anything like that. They look a lot to their guards to do the work; so it wasn't too bad, thank God, a little bit of a break…just to relax a little in the post."
GAYLEN WOOD: They didn't seem to be quite as physical as some of the other teams in the WAC?
YO: "Not as physical."
Q: It's been a long time since Idaho has had such a big win like this. How fun is it right now and in the locker room to know that you just had a 21-point win?
YO: "I know. Thank God. I was like, I wanted to beat them by more than 20 because we knew we could. It feels really good right now. Victory always feels good, but beating them by that much in front of your home crowd is the best."
Q: Was it hard at all to regroup after that overtime loss?
YO: "Yes and no. We get down on ourselves and this and that, but you know what? That game's done. Gotta look forward to the next game. The next time we play La Tech we'll remember that game and then take it out."
Q: Another big career thing happened not for you but for your coach, his 100th win. Did you guys know that?
YO: "I knew a few days ago he had like 99 wins or something like that, but I forgot about it until (radio broadcaster John Mallory) just mentioned it. That's really good for him; so we've got to go congratulate him in the team room"
Charlotte Otero, post-game quotes
Q: What a fun win for you guys.
CO: "Oh, yeah, especially coming off that last loss. We had to come out hard and we knew ‘Protect home floor.' All we were thinking was we have to do this before we get back out on the road; so a really fun win for us."
Q: At the half you were up, I don't know – tenish maybe? Something like that?
Q: Eight. Thank you. I knew you would know. What broke it open for you guys?
CO: "I think we just knew that they were just down and frustrated with each other. We knew we can't have any more lapses. We had that lapse in the beginning. We went on an 11-0 run I think and then they came back to get a lead. We just knew we…can't let that happen again, because we always get down and just had to play the whole time, and I think we executed really well."
GAYLEN WOOD: That really seemed to turn things around. It was 11-0, then 11-13, then all of a sudden there was a time out and you guys shut them down. Any changes?
CO: I think it was just execution. We started rushing too many threes. We needed to keep attacking the basket, and we got into bonus early; so you just keep attacking, and that was helping us. That's how we got that 11-0 run. We had to keep doing what we needed to do and not playing to what they wanted us to do."
GAYLEN WOOD: Did you get the feeling that their inside game – offense and defense – just disappeared on them?
CO: "I feel like they rely so much on their guards on the outside; so they started to try to go inside, then we shut that down and they just -- I don't know -- couldn't figure out where to go."
Q: What did you guys talk about at the half?
CO: "We just need to make sure we focused in and shut them down. We couldn't have any more lapses and come back out and let them get another run because we knew they were going to come out hard. We couldn't play to what they wanted us to do and not let them get inside our heads and just keep our composure and play through. I think we kept our composure really well tonight."
Q: Shaena (Kuehu) really came up and did some pretty great things, especially as a freshman hitting some baseline threes and driving really well.
CO: "Shaena is capable of doing that every single game. She came out, she kept her composure, then she hit her open shots and she…got Yinka (Olorunnife) some good passes, and everyone just really stepped up. That's how we needed to play: As a team, because that's what we're best at. We can't just win with one player at a time; so playing as a team really helped us."
Q: Yinka had a great job rebounding and was really kicking some good passes out to you.
CO: Yeah. Yinka really kept her composure inside, too, because they were beating up on her…she just fell to the floor, got back up, got back on offense, and just took advantage of that.
Shaena-Lyn Kuehu, post-game quotes
Q: It was fun to see you guys bust out with a really big game today.
SK: "Yeah. That was exciting."
Q: How'd that feel to you?
SK: "It felt great. I mean, we lost Friday, and it's just another comeback we had to take."
Q: I heard an interesting stat …the other day in practice you hit like 18 straight three pointers.
SK: (In a small voice) "Yeah."
Q: I just wanted to double check. That's great. You looked very comfortable out there tonight. Do you feel that you're meant to be here now and that you have your spot and you know your role?
SK: "Pretty much, yeah. I guess I'm comfortable on the floor now. Before I was kinda iffy about that whole freshman…'Oh, I'm a freshman. I can't do this,' but my coach just talked to us and said on the court we're not a freshman. I'm just another basketball player; so that's what I try to do every day and come out and play like that."
GAYLEN WOOD: This is going to seem like an off-the-wall question, but how long have you been playing basketball? I ask that because … you have outstanding fundamental basketball skills.
SK: "I've been playing since I was 11 years old."
Q: It looks you're doing a really good job of knowing when to shoot the three and when to go ahead and drive. Again is that just a comfort thing, getting used to the college game?
SK: "Yes, pretty much…It depends on what kind of defender I have or if I have the open lane. If I have the shot and the drive I prefer to take the drive. It all depends."
Q: I would say you guys seem to jelling pretty well as a team.
SK: "That's true. I guess we've gotten more comfortable now. The season is progressing and since coming to the middle of the season I think we mesh pretty well."
Q: How hard is it to come off that overtime loss? You guys had such a great comeback against La Tech to lose.
SK: "It was hard at first, but we just came out and said we've just got to come out and play. That's what we did. We came out and fought back. We never gave up."
GAYLEN WOOD: This is kind of a redo of a question we asked you back at the start of the season. How are you doing with the winter here now?
SK: "Uh, I like it, actually. I got to play in the snow yesterday; so it wasn't that bad (Kuehu is a native of Honolulu, Hawai'i)."