Vandal women fall to Colorado State

After digging a huge hole in the first half and trailing by as many as 18 points, the Vandal women came to life in the second half and narrowed the deficit to only two points with 4:18 left in the game. Unfortunately they weren't able to get the job done, letting the Rams escape by posting a 15-7 scoring edge the rest of the way to claim a 65-55 nonconference win at Memorial Gym Tuesday night.

The two teams were close in the first six minutes before the Rams put on a 9-2 scoring run, shredding the Vandal defense for uncontested shots both from inside the key and beyond the three-point arc. Fortunately, Idaho came out in the second half and played much better basketball at both ends of the floor. The Rams, who seemed supremely confident in the first half, became rattled in the second missing 19 of their first 22 shots after intermission and also connected on just 1 for 6 on three-point attempts after canning 7 of 11 in the first half. A small but vocal Vandal crowd was also a factor as the visitors had to shoot at the east goal in Memorial Gym in front of the Vandal partisans.

As sterling as the comeback might have been, it was all for naught as the Rams regained their composure to ice the win, their first on the road this year. A frustrated Vandal coach Jon Newlee was at a loss to explain the dismal first half performance by his team.

"I was frustrated," Newlee told the media after the game. "What was frustrating was the first 10 minutes of the game… That's when we lost it. We lost track of their shooters, played tired. I don't know. If we would have had the same effort in the first half that we had in the second half I think it's a different ball game. I don't know why the start was so bad. I know defensively why. We didn't find their shooters. We didn't sprint back in transition. They were hitting wide-open 3's and making layups. You get down 18 and it's a big hole to come back."

Asked what adjustments were made at intermission, the coach said, "I think we just went to another one of our zones and we got a little more aggressive with ‘em. We found the shooters. We all got on the same page. We had a run there in the first half where people were running around…I don't know what they were doing. Half the people were playing man, some were playing zone.

"We got all the way back. I think we hit the three (Kanisha Bello's three off a pass from Jessica Graham) and were right there (trailing 50-48), but then we go back and lose (Bonnie) Barbee and give up another three," Newlee said. "We can't take plays off. We're not good enough to take any plays off anytime. Everybody has got to contribute and everybody's got to come to play. Until that happens we're not going to get many W's.

"We let a team come in here on our home floor and take it to us physically," Newlee continued. "I think they muscled us around… If teams are going to come here and push and shove, you'd better push and shove back. That's the way the WAC is going to be. Mountain West teams play that way. We've got another one coming in on Thursday (Wyoming) that's better than these guys and way more physical."

Barbee led all scorers with 20 points for the Rams, making 6 of 8 three-point attempts and both free throws. Rachele Kloke paced the Vandals with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Bianca Cheever had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Shaena Kuehu had 10 points, 9 rebounds 3 steals and 2 assists. Yinka Olorunnife finished with 9 points, 6 rebound, 5 blocked shots and 3 assists. Bello and Charlotte Otero had 3 points each with Otero notching 4 steals, and Ally Sisel-Kumpfer checked out with 2 points.

The team statistics were surprising in that after the dominating first half by Colorado State both teams wound up with 22 points in the paint and Idaho held a 6-0 edge on fast break points. Colorado State held edges of 15-10 on points off turnover (both teams had 15) and second chance points (the Rams had a 43-27 rebounding edge). Each team had 8 steals, and despite being at a decided disadvantage height-wise Idaho blocked 8 shots while the Rams did not block any Vandal shots.

The game saw only 19 fouls assessed and 14 free throws shot (Idaho was 2-for-2 and CSU was 8-for-2). In the first half only 3 fouls were called, 4 free throws were shot, and unofficially the half was completed in 38 minutes.

Idaho will host Wyoming Thursday at 7 p.m. in Memorial Gym. It will be "Thirsty Thursday" and the first 250 fans in attendance will receive a free Pepsi product.

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