Vandal women fall in OT to USU at WAC Tourney

WAC Newcomer of the Year DERISA TALENI had a stellar game for the Vandals scoring 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists, but it wasn't enough to guide the Vandals to victory in the opening round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament this afternoon in Reno. The No. 4 seed Vandals battled Utah State University into overtime before eventually falling 59-58 to the Aggies.

COMMENTARY:

Coach Jon Newlee was succinct: "I want to say 10 for 17 is not gonna win you post season games, he said "I know that…We just missed layups, and that's what happened down in Logan, especially in the first half down there. We got to the rim and then we just didn't finish. I don't know if it's because they're so much bigger than we are inside we're expecting a block or expecting a foul. I told ‘em at halftime, ‘Don't expect to get fouled. Just go up and shoot the ball.'

Unofficially the Vandals missed 20 of 36 shots from close range, made only 10 of 17 free throws (including some key misses in the second half) and were eliminated from the WAC championship tournament 59-58 in overtime by Utah State. It was the second overtime loss to the Aggies in Logan, Utah about three weeks ago.

Both teams were ragged to start the game but the Aggies took control of the key outrebounding the Vandals 23-9. Still 14 USU turnovers allowed Idaho to stay close and an amazing 45-footer by Derisa Taleni at the buzzer gave the Vandals a 25-24 lead.

In the second half the Vandals righted the ship and started to dominate the game inside and outside building up a 9-point lead with 12:33 left in the game, but the Aggies continued to chip away aided by missed opportunities by Idaho which was 8-for-14 from the line and unofficially 7 of 18 from inside the paint in regulation.

A make and a miss from the free-throw line by Derisa Taleni with 23 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 52. USU also had a chance to win in regulation when Danyelle Snelgro missed from 5 feet with 2 seconds left. In overtime the Vandals jumped out on top on a bucket by Alana Curtis, but Utah State got a 3-pointer and back-to-back field goals to take a 5-point lead. The Vandals did not fold. Yinka Olorunnife hit a 5-footer and then hit two free throws with 45.1 left to cut the lead to 59-58. Both teams traded turnovers and USU had a shot clock violation in a hectic 40 seconds until the Aggies missed two free throws with 5 seconds left. Olorunnife grabbed the rebound and Idaho used its last timeout with 5.0 seconds left to set up the final play.

Newlee recapped the final play: "We knew they were going to double Char (Otero) and she was supposed to give it to Shaena (Kuehu), he said. "Shaena was wide open and she didn't do it and maybe she didn't see the double team coming hard. Derisa (Taleni) was going to come off the pick. Char just got kinda hung up." Otero stumbled in the key and the ball squirted free as time expired.

Newlee was emphatic that the loss was not a result of the final play. "like I told ‘em in the locker room, it doesn't come down to the last play. We lost the game in the first half, not at the end or in overtime."


VANDAL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS:

Derisa Taleni 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists. Yinka Olorunnife11 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist. Rachele Kloke 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist. Alana Curtis 8 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound. Charlotte Otero 4 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal. Shaena Kuehu 3 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists. Anna Sandman 1 rebound.


TEAM STATISTICS:

• FIELD GOALS: Idaho 22 of 57 for 38.6%, USU 22 of 60 for 36.7%
• THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS: Idaho 4 of 11 for 36.4%, USU 5 of 16 for 31.3%
• FREE THROWS: Idaho 10 of 17 for 58.8%; USU 10 of 16 for 62.5%
• REBOUNDS: Idaho 13 offensive, 27 defensive for 40 total; USU 16 offensive, 26 defensive for 42 total
• ASSISTS: Idaho 12, USU 16
• TURNOVERS: Idaho 18, USU 19
• BLOCKED SHOTS: Idaho 0, USU 8
• STEALS: Idaho 10, USU 8
• POINTS IN THE PAINT: Idaho 30, USU 20
• POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: Idaho 16, USU 19
• SECOND CHANCE POINTS: Idaho 7, USU 12
• FAST BREAK POINTS: Idaho 2, USU 2
• BENCH POINTS: Idaho 8, USU 12
• SCORE TIED : 8 times
• LEAD CHANGES: 10


Head coach Jon Newlee, Derisa Taleni, and Yinka Olorunnife post game quotes

JN: "I thought it was a tough, hard-fought game. There's no question. It was reminiscent of the one we played down in Logan, I think. A low-scoring deal both ways. I thought we had a hard time finishing at the rim in the first half. We didn't do a good job finishing and keeping them off the O boards. I thought in the second half we did a much better job with that. To give them credit, I thought they hit some huge 3's in the second half. That was really the difference in the game."

Q: Coach, just talk about the last three minutes of regulation.
JN: "That seems like a long time ago."


Q: It was.

JN: "The last three minutes? We had our chances, they had their chances I think. Once again it came down…we didn't shoot free throws like we needed to today either, and I want to say 10 for 17 is not gonna win you post season games. I know that. That hurt us, and I think our rebounding down the stretch was really good. Execution-wise I thought we did a good job. It was just a tough ending to that and a tough ending in overtime."


Q: It really seems like some of the air went out of the offense when (Rachele) Kloke fouled out.

JN: "Kloke was doing a good job attacking the rim, and I thought she gave us some energy tonight, but we're a five-person team that's out on the floor. I thought Alana (Curtis) played well tonight. I thought she did a good job attacking the rim herself. Yeah, Kloke helped us out, but everybody's got to do their job. It's been the same six all year that have been playing, and any combination of those six should be able to get the job done."

Q: Coach, can you talk about the last play and what you guys were trying to do there and what went wrong?

JN: "The last play we brought the ball in. We knew they were going to double Char (Otero) and she was supposed to give it to Shaena (Kuehu). Shaena was wide open and she didn't do it and maybe she didn't see the double team coming hard. Derisa (Talena) was going to come off the pick. I'd have to look at the film or ask her. We haven't really talked about it, why she didn't come off. Faded back the other way and Char just got kinda hung up, but like I told ‘em in the locker room it doesn't come down to the last play. We lost the game in the first half, not at the end or in overtime."


Q: Derisa, what did the coach talk to you about at halftime to correct what happed in the first half?

DT: "Basically he just said we had to come out and play hard. We've got to rebound to win. The first half it was trouble with rebounding for us both offensively and defensively and to keep ‘em off the board was our key to win. Rebounding was what we stressed a lot this year because we're such a small team, but if we put a body on somebody we can get any board. We got it in the second half but the first half killed us."


Q: The overtime situation. You go back and forth and don't get shots now that you had gotten earlier in regulation. What happened?

DT: "They started swarming in. They started double teaming, either double teaming or trying to front. Basically it's not like a one-person team. I know that they're coming to attack me, but I know my teammates have my back to make other plays and I'm counting on them and they did work well today."


Q: Yinka, talk about playing down inside. This seemed to be a rebounding situation for both teams."

YO: "Well, it's very hard playing down inside with my height and playing girls as big as Lydia (Whitehead). Regardless of height, anyone can box out. I think we failed to do that first half. In the second half, as Teresa said, we were able to get a body on players, but the first half cost us."


GAYLEN WOOD: Coach, did you sense your team was kinda tight at the start of the ball game?

JN: "I didn't feel like we were tense. I thought we were pretty loose in the locker room and ready to come out. I don't think we were tense. We just missed layups to start the game. If you want to say we were tense…that's why we looked tense maybe, but I don't think it was because we were tense. I think we just missed layups, and that's what happened down in Logan. Especially in the first half down there. We got to the rim and then we just didn't finish. I don't know if it's because they're so much bigger than we are inside we're expecting a block or expecting a foul. I told ‘em at halftime, ‘Don't expect to get fouled. Just go up and shoot the ball.' I don't feel like we were tense at all coming out to start the game."


Q: Derisa, I know it's not easy talking about this since you just came off a loss. Can you talk about some of the positives this program has taken right now. You weren't there last year but just all the steps forward you guys have taken. Do you guys take that going into next season, all the positives that you had this year?"

DT: "Yeah. We're looking to our new players coming in and we have a good core coming in. We're probably going to get more. That's just a supportive group. With the girls we've got this year, I think we proved to a lot of teams different…like they think we're the same Idaho team. We are not the same Idaho team. We've got a whole new coaching staff who know what they're doing, a lot of girls who are dedicated and put in the hard work, and I think next year will be our main look; so don't count us out."


Q: Another kinda bittersweet thing Derisa, that shot to end the half. When was the last time you made a shot like that?

DT: "Uh, I don't even remember, but it felt good. That's all that matters as long as it feels good. It went in and we got the lead at the half."



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