Vandal Women Beat BSU 58-56, No. 4 in WAC

The win was the first for Idaho at Boise since 2003 and moves Idaho's final tally to 13-14 overall and 10-6 in the WAC, which is the team's highest single-season total since joining the league in 2005. Boise State, on the other hand, slips to 16-14 and 9-7 in WAC play and falls to the sixth seed in next week's WAC Tournament. Yinka Olorunnife earned her 10th double-double, Derisa Taleni scored 19.

Vandal women end regular season with win at Boise State

3/7/2009

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho's women's basketball team came together and played an outstanding defensive game on Saturday night to spoil Boise State's senior night and clinch the Western Athletic Conference's No. 4 seed with a 58-56 win at Boise.

The win was the first for Idaho at Boise since 2003 and moves Idaho's final tally to 13-14 overall and 10-6 in the WAC, which is the team's highest single-season total since joining the league in 2005. Boise State, on the other hand, slips to 16-14 and 9-7 in WAC play and falls to the sixth seed in next week's WAC Tournament.

The fourth-place finish is the highest for the Vandal women, while the 10 conference wins are also the most for a single season. Entering this year, Idaho had 11 total WAC wins in three previous seasons.

"It was a great win for a our program to be able to come down here and do this and I know we haven't won down here for a while," Idaho head coach Jon Newlee said.

Idaho led 54-46 with 1:32 to go and the Broncos started fouling, but the Vandals couldn't find the mark from the free-throw line and made just four of their final 12 attempts, while BSU started to score and the result was a two-point lead with just 11 seconds to go. BSU's Janie Bos missed two free throws with three seconds remaining and the Vandal defense gave up nothing more than a contested, desperation shot as time expired to hang on for the win.

"It was off the scale," Newlee said of his stress level over the final minute of the game. "We made it so hard on ourselves by not making free throws. If we make our free throws, it never comes down to us making that big stop at the end, so I told them in the locker room that that's the first thing we're working on Monday when we get back on the court."

After an ugly home loss on Wednesday against Nevada, the Vandal women came out motivated and practically pillaged the Bronco women on the defensive side of the ball. Idaho forced BSU into 14 first-half turnovers, then forced 10 more in the second. BSU's 24 turnovers are a WAC opponent season-high for Idaho, while the Vandals' 13 steals are also a WAC season high.

"Defensively, we really did a good job of communicating down at the other end away from our bench, and that has really been an Achilles' heel for us," Newlee said. "We came out with hands and got some big deflections and it really led to some easy baskets for us on the other end."

The Idaho ‘D' was relentless over the first 5:47 of the second half, as the Vandals held BSU scoreless during that time and went on a 15-0 run to take a 42-29 lead with 14:24 remaining.

"We came out focused knowing that it was whole new ballgame," Idaho junior team captain Charlotte Otero said. "We knew defense and boxing out were definitely things that we could control, and we played really good help defense without fouling and they (BSU) knocked down some big shots, but we just played good team defense and that's what really pulled us through."

Sophomore Yinka Olorunnife earned her 10th double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds, along with a career-high six steals. Junior Derisa Taleni made her case even stronger for the WAC's Newcomer of the Year award as she scored a game-high 19 points, along with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Freshman Shaena Kuehu was Idaho's other scorer in double-digits as she dropped in 12 points, grabbed nine boards, dished three assists and nabbed three steals.

The game was a back-and-forth affair right from the beginning, as the teams exchanged scores for the first nine minutes before an Idaho 10-0 run put the Vandals up 21-13 with 9:52 in the half. The Broncos responded after a timeout with a 12-0 run of their own to go up 25-21 at 4:57, but Idaho outscored them 6-4 over the final five minutes and went into the break with the score 29-27 in favor of BSU.

After Fresno State's win over Utah State and Nevada's win over Hawai`i earlier in the day, Idaho was locked into the 4-5 game at the WAC Tournament, with the only thing yet to be decided being the seed and the opponent. The win matches the Vandals up with No. 5 Utah State in the first round of next week's WAC Tournament.

I heard (Idaho men's basketball coach Don Verlin) talking on a radio show about wearing the (home) whites at the tournament, and I thought that was a good statement," Newlee said. "It's a good feeling to know that we get the fourth seed, but now we have unfinished business and we can't be satisfied with where we're at.

"We need to get home, get focused and get ready for Utah State."



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