Vandal Women notch first ever win over Hawaii

The Vandal women are quietly putting together a stellar WAC season with first-year head coach Jon Newlee at the helm. Today Idaho beat Hawaii 66-50 for the first time ever, and hit a WAC-best 94.4% from the free-throw line. The Vandals (8-10, 5-2 WAC) are now in third place in the WAC, their best position after seven games, and their five wins matches the most Idaho WAC wins in a single season.


Hawai'i came in with momentum following a win over Utah State Thursday, their first conference win of the season. Against Idaho today, they made the first three baskets of the game and later led 13-9 before the Vandals, who were 10-of-10 from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes, went into the break leading 33-26. Hawai'i came out after the break with an 8-2 run to get within one point at 35-34, but the Vandals rang up eight unanswered points to bring the lead to nine at 43-34 with 13:02 remaining. A three-ball by Alan Curtis just two minutes later gave Idaho a double-digit lead at 46-36 and three-straight 3-pointers by Derisa Taleni helped extend the lead to 16 with 3:31 remaining, putting the game out of reach for the Rainbow Wahine.

The Hawai'i game plan seemed to be to keep the ball away from Vandal post player Yinka Olorunnife by collapsing at least two players on her every time Idaho tried to work the ball inside. Olorunnife had – for her – a relatively quiet 7 point performance (ending a streak of six straight double-digit scoring games). But the rest of the Vandal team stepped up with outstanding scoring balance and sizzling shooting from behind the arc (11 for 23, 47.8%) and from the free throw line (17 of 18 for 94.4%, best in the WAC this year for a team shooting more than four free throws).

The Vandals also collected 13 steals and scored 30 points off turnovers. Vandal Coach Jon Newlee credited associate head coach Gavin Petersen for preparing a scouting report on the visitors and working with the Vandal scout team to simulate the offensive patterns Hawai'i was expected to run in the long week of practice (Idaho drew a bye Thursday).

Idaho improves to 8-10 on the season and, more importantly, 5-2 in WAC action. The Vandals are in third place in the WAC, their best position after seven games, and their five wins matches their most WAC wins in a single season.

One other superlative from the game: The win was Idaho's first ever over Hawai'i in women's basketball. The Rainbow Wahine had won all eight previous meetings and had won the last four WAC matchups by double digits. The Vandals have now beaten all but one WAC team since joining the conference four years ago. Only Louisiana Tech has not lost to the Vandals, although it took overtime last week to pull out the win. Idaho will be at Louisiana Tech this coming Friday, and Sunday they will visit New Mexico State.


Charlotte Otero 14 points (season high and ties career high), 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound. Rachele Kloke (13 points, 3 steals, 2 rebounds, 2 assists. Alana Curtis 12 points (season high), 2 rebounds, 1 assist. Shaena Kuehu 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals (ties career high). Derisa Taleni 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot. Yinka Olorunnife 7 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals (a career high), 3 blocked shots, 1 steal. Emily Doran and Liz Boyden also saw action.


• FIELD GOALS: Idaho 19 of 44 for 43.2%; UH 22 of 54 for 40.7%
• THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS: Idaho 11 of 23 for 58.3%, UH 3 of 9 for 33.3%
• FREE THROWS: Idaho 17 of 18 for 94.4%; UH 3 of 5 for 60%
• REBOUNDS: Idaho 5 offensive, 21 defensive for 26 total; UH 10 offensive, 21 defensive for 31 total
• ASSISTS: Idaho 9, UH 10
• TURNOVERS: Idaho 17, UH 20
• BLOCKED SHOTS: Idaho 4, UH 4
• STEALS: Idaho 13, UH 1
• POINTS IN THE PAINT: Idaho 12, UH 24
• BENCH POINTS: Idaho 13, UH 4
The Vandals will be on the road next week at Louisiana Tech Thursday and at New Mexico State Saturday. They will return to the Cowan Spectrum Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. against Fresno State and Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. against San Jose State.

Head CoachJon Newlee, post-game quotes

Q: We heard you saying on the radio you weren't very pleased with the way you guys came out and started. What changed that up?
JN: "I thought (Rachelle) Kloke came in and gave us a little energy. I think Char (Otero) picked the team up. She always comes out with energy. I think some of these other guys…we just weren't energized. I'm not sure if it was finally…I think finally all the time we've had practicing and not playing finally caught up. I think that was a big factor in it, but I think once we started attacking the rim in the first half and Alana (Curtis) got things going, jump-started for us. It was like the first half was just a grind it out. I told them it was like being at the dentist. I said, ‘You guys are all sitting there with your mouths open in the chair waiting for something bad to happen.' After halftime I felt like we just relaxed and just started playing ball. Obviously things went much better."

Q: Is Derisa (Taleni) banged up a little bit because she seems kinda tentative on that knee and maybe not moving her feet when she picked up those fouls.
JN: "Her knee hurts. It's still hurt from the game, the collision, but she's been practicing. She's capable of doing it. I just don't know where she was in the first half. She got the two quick fouls. Sometimes when that happens you get out of the game…mentally you get out of it. I told her at halftime ‘You've got to get re-focused. You've got to come in.' Then she comes in and gets a (foul) again and sits down, but to her credit I thought she pulled it together when I stuck her in there for Yinka (Olorunnife) and made them pay for not guarding her, basically."

Q: You have some big road games coming up. Do you feel like hopefully this will give you some more momentum for those?
JN: "I think so. It's the toughest trip I think in the WAC. It's the furthest trip. It's La Tech, and it's so hard to win there. New Mexico State, Jekyl and Hyde as far as road and home team. Yeah, it's going to be tough. I said we lost one at home. We've got to get that one back on the road. We've got to get them back. We always try to look for sweeps. We'll come in focused with La Tech and see what happens."

Q: What pleased you most about today?
JN: "I liked our balance. I think our balance was great today. Everybody stepped up, made shots. We passed the ball well. I thought we moved the ball well, but everybody just did their part. I love seeing four people in double figures. We'd love to see six if we could. D (Taleni) was almost there. I just think as a team it was a total team effort today."

Q: Talk about that free throw shooting.
JN: "That was nice! That was good. It was good to see that. We've had a lot of time and we shot a lot of free throws. I think that really paid off today. I think we did a great job focusing in at the line and knocking them down, and they really put us ahead in the first half. There's no question about that. If we miss some of those, miss a couple of threes and then all of a sudden we're behind I think you get a different mind set. Getting up to the line with confidence and making ‘em really gives the whole entire team confidence and it was great to see."

Q: On the flip side of that they (Hawai'i) have five free throw attempts. Talk about how important it was to keep them off the line.
JN: "That was one of our keys we wrote on the board: Keep them off the foul line. They do usually do a good job of penetrating, drawing fouls, and we really felt like to be successful defensively we wanted to keep them off the foul line and keep their three attempts limited and I thought we did both those things pretty well."

GAYLEN WOOD: Defensively 13 steals? That seems like a lot.
JN: "Yeah, that is a lot, but like I said we had a week to prepare. I thought Gavin (associate head coach Petersen) did a great job of getting our scout team into their (Hawaii's) pattern and what they were gonna run so our team knew what they were gonna run, and they really focused in and practiced on what they were gonna run, and I thought we executed that. I think that's why anticipation-wise we kinda knew what cuts they were gonna make, where the ball was going, and I thought we came with hands and got some good deflections and steals. That was a big part of it. I think the long week there helped us."

Q: As a coach did you do anything differently against a team like Hawai'i that plays a lot of different players, does a lot of switching in and out?
JN: "Nope. (laughing) I've got my players and they're gonna do what they're gonna do, man. I don't care if they play 20 people over there. We're just gonna play. This game's still only 40 minutes. Nope. We've just gotta do with what we have."

Shaena Kuehu, post-game quotes

Q: One of the themes that was kinda obvious to us, you were re playing against what we would consider your home team (Kuehu is from Honolulu). Growing up, did you go to a lot of their games as a kid?
SK: "No. Well, I went to the football games but never the basketball games. Maybe a little bit of their volleyball games, but that's pretty much it."

Q: Growing up did you want to go to school there? Were you hoping to play ball there? Did they recruit you at all?
SK: "Yes they did, but I didn't try." No [didn't want to go to school there]. I knew I was going to go away from the start because I wanted to get away and experience something new, and Idaho is definitely something new."

GAYLEN WOOD: It's hard to tell…we would think that you having been from there you might have been trying to play a little bit harder with a little bit more intensity. You were all over…but then everyone looked like they were all over the place. How did you feel just flying up and down the floor and shooting as well as you did (4 of 7 from the floor and 1 for 1 from the free throw line)?
SK: "It was pretty normal for me. Just like an ordinary game to me. Yeah, it's my home team, but they're just another team that we have to get through to get to the WAC."

Charlotte Otero; post-game quotes

Q: It looked like you guys were a just a little bit sluggish there at the start and then kind of picked things up. Is that a fair assessment?
CO: "Yeah. We came out really slow, our only game of the week; so I felt like we were a little sluggish. They really came out harder than we expected. They just came off a win at Utah; so we knew that they were going to try to get another one on the road. We started off kinda slow, had to get a feel for it, and then we really had to pick it up, and I think the second half we did a great job picking it up and being more aggressive."

Q: I also thought that you distributed the ball well obviously, but everyone had their looks to score and so did you. It seemed like that's kind of a season's best in terms of spreading it out.
CO: "I think everyone really did step it up. Derisa (Taleni) had a slow first half and she picked it up in the second half. All we can expect is everyone to do their part, take their open shots and everyone really knock their shots down when they have the open looks."

Q: What was the key to finally get this thing going?
CO: "Playing together and having more intensity. Like you said the first half we were really sluggish, and once we realized we can run them that's what we're good at. We're good at running things. We're not that big inside. We can't keep hammering it inside. We have to run up and down the floor and we did a really good job of that in the second half."

Q: Your passing – I noticed you guys were really, really crisp back and forth, a lot of good ball movement.
CO: "We really emphasize that a lot in practice. Always pass the ball and catch the ball, because sometimes you get too careless or we get too hyper and excited and just start throwing the ball away, but we just really slowed down. I think we really knew where each (player) was supposed to be and we knew where every other person was going to be on the floor so we knew exactly where to pass the ball."

Q: Was this one of the taller teams you've played against? They seemed like they had a couple of kids that were fairly tall.
CO: "I think they weren't as tall as some of the teams we've played but they were really physical in the post. Yinka (Olorunnife) had a tough game inside but she held her own. It was a really good game."

Alana Curtis, post-game quotes

Q: You had one of your best shooting games tonight. How did that feel to finally break through a little bit?
AC: "It felt fine. It was about time. I don't know. I was more aggressive, got to the free throw line which I haven't really been doing lately. That helps a lot."

GAYLEN WOOD: It looked like Alana Curtis all over the floor. You were really hustling everywhere – offense, defense, transition.
AC: "Well, I knew we needed to pick up the energy. That was what we were struggling with in the first half. We definitely needed to hustle, and that's just what I did. That's kinda just how I play."

Q: What do you think kinda finally keyed that spark there in the second half when you guys finally pulled away?
AC: "I don't know. We felt them coming up on our backs a little bit and knew we needed to just pull away and be able to lead as much as we can. In order to do that you have to play hard and play with energy; so that's what we did."

Q: A great night for everyone shooting from the outside. Is that the best that you know that you guys have shot from far away?
AC: "I don't know. We've been shooting really well lately. It was shot after shot going in. It was nice to see."

GAYLEN WOOD: You guys got after them defensively too. They were kinda picking apart inside and it looked like you stopped it in the second half.
AC: "Yeah. That's what we really had to do because we shut down their shooters which was our original game plan, but once they started going inside we just had to be strong, get our hands up and avoid getting them to the free throw line."

Q: They were doing a lot of substitution. They played like 12 or 13 different players. Was that difficult on you on the defensive end, kinda change up your sets?
AC: "No, the players are pretty similar to each other; so it wasn't too much of a change when each player came in. We expected that, too, coming into the game that they played a lot of players; so it wasn't anything we didn't expect."

Q: Looking on a larger scale of things, how does feel for the momentum for the rest of the season, your fifth win in the last six games?
AC: "We needed this one to keep our momentum going. This is our last game at home for a while. We really need to protect the home court in order to make those road wins a little bit easier, a little more attainable."

GAYLEN WOOD: I forgot to ask Charlotte. I should have since she's the junior. This is the first time Idaho has ever beaten Hawai'i. Any comment on that?
AC: "It was kind of opportunity meets preparation, that kind of thing. We were coming in hot from a few wins and Hawai'i might have been a little down this year. It was just something that needed to happen. We needed to get it done."

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