The University of Idaho women’s basketball team returned to the Big Sky Conference with an early 17- 10 lead over Idaho State University Thursday night, but ISU used an 11-0 run in the first half and good defense in the second half on the way to a 71-50 win over the Vandals in front of 879 fans at Reed Gym in Pocatello.
(Idaho’s Stacey Barr  and Maren Austgulen  battle ISU’s Anna Policicchio in Thursday’s game in Pocatello. Photo courtesy ISU Sports Information)
“We had a lack of effort and a lack of intensity,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said in a press release. “We were certainly rusty after the break. I have seen games go like this if you do not play after Christmas. Idaho State played a couple of days ago and we have been off for 11 days. But you are not going to win any game with that kind of effort.”
The Vandals trailed by five at the half, 32- 27, and 40-35 with 16:06 to play in the second half, but only scored 15 points the rest of the way against the Bengal defense.
“We did not do anything we talked about tonight,” Newlee said.
For Idaho State, on the other hand, it was the team’s fourth win in a row.
“Part of it is conference and part of it is stepping up to the challenge of playing a really good team,” ISU coach Seton Sobolewski said. in a press release. “They’ve won the WAC tournament and been to the NCAA tournament two years in a row. They have a lot of players left from those teams so I think it’s a challenge. We know they are probably a little better than us so we really needed to dig down and play hard.”
Apiphany Woods led the Bengals with 19 points and tied a career-high with seven rebounds. She’s scored in double-figures in eight of the last ten games.
“Hats off to ISU,” Newlee said. “They shot the ball as well as they have all year. Woods really lit it up and we did not do a great job of guarding her in that first half.”
For the Vandals, Connie Baellestero had 12 points and Ali Forde had 10. Idaho suffered a season low in field goal percentage (27.3%) and tied its season low in assists (7).
Christina Salvatore was hit with a technical foul, and fouled out of the game, with 15:06 left in the second half.
Idaho is now 6-6 overall and 0-1 in the Big Sky. The Vandals are 3-5 on the road this season, and the team’s next two games are on the road, including Saturday’s game at Weber State.
“You cannot win on the road if you do not keep your composure,” Newlee said. “We have to learn how to handle the adversity better. I was a bit disappointed in that since we have been in bigger venues and faced adversity. We will talk and go back to the drawing board. Tonight was just game number one of 18.”
It was Idaho’s first game in the BIg Sky since 1996.
For Idaho coaches, the trip to Pocatello was a return to familiar surroundings. Newlee coached the Bengals for six seasons prior to his tenure at Idaho, and associate head coach Christina Sanford graduated from ISU in 2004 and played basketball there for two years.
Copyright 2015 Idaho Public Radio
Posted January 2, 2015