Vandal women cruise in exhibition, 82-52

The Vandal women's basketball team got the exhibition season started on the right foot Sunday with an impressive 82-52 victory over Northwest Christian College, an NAIA school from Eugene, Oregon. The game was played in the cozy confines of Memorial Gym and marks the anticipated start to the 2009-10 regular season schedule.

The idea behind NCAA Division I basketball exhibition games is to give a team a chance to work against an opponent after weeks of practicing, where the only full-court action comes against players totally familiar with each other's offensive and defensive plans, play calls, etc.

Sunday afternoon in Memorial Gym the Vandal women entertained Northwest Christian College, an NAIA school from Eugene, Oregon to open the 2009-10 hoops season with an exhibition matchup. The visiting Beacons scored the first bucket of the game to take a 2-0 lead. The Vandal got their first points of the season from Katieh Montieh 75 seconds into the skirmish. At the other end of the game, the Vandals got a basket from Natasha Helsham with 1.8 seconds left to close out the scoring. In between the Beacons stayed within about 10 points in the early going and trailed just 39-27 at the half. But the Beacons wilted in the second half under a relentless, up-tempo, fast breaking Idaho attack as the Vandals posted an 82-52 decision that will not count in the season record.

Idaho was a bit tentative at first, but as the game went on the Vandals settled into their favored flow with a number of different players grabbing rebounds and charging up the floor in a crisp transition game. Once they reached the attacking zone, the ball was spread around impressibly. Idaho was just as likely to drive the lane as it was to step up and can a three from beyond the arc.

If you want to make a comparison between the squad unveiled today (minus Derisa Taleni who is lost for the season with an injury) to last year's fourth place WAC finishers, look no further than the final stat sheets. No Vandal played more than 25 minutes Sunday. Four players scored in double figures. Two came close to double-doubles in scoring and rebounds. Idaho did not commit a foul in the first half and were whistled for only five in the game, sending the Beacons to the line only four times. There were 49 Vandal rebounds, 16 assists and only eight turnovers.

Translation: There is quality depth available this year for coach Jon Newlee, and there are only two seniors on the roster at this point: Taleni, who will take a redshirt year, and guard Charlotte Otero.

Statistically Idaho shot 43% from the floor, 75% from the line, and had a 49-25 edge in rebounds. Ten Vandals played in the game. Ten scored. Ten had at least one rebound. Seven had at least one assist. Four had steals. Only one player had more than one foul (and that player had just two).

Junior Yinka Olorunnife led the Vandals with 16 points and 8 rebounds, sophomore Shaena Kuehu had 13 points, 9 boards and 2 assists. Freshman guard Kanisha Bello had 11 points, and redshirt freshman post Jessica Graham finished with ten. Otero led the assist column with six.

Vandal fans will have a golden opportunity next Friday evening to catch both the men and the women as Idaho has slated a double-header exhibition evening in Memorial Gym. The action starts with the women against Eastern Oregon at 6 p.m., followed by the men hosting St. Martin's University at 8:05.

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