CHENEY, Wash. -- There was a little bit of everything on Thursday night at Reese Court, as Idaho
men's basketball came back from down 17 to claim an 81-79 overtime victory at
It was sluggish, then
bad, then really bad, then suddenly great – and that's before things got close.
The game featured eight ties and 22 lead changes – seven in overtime alone as
Idaho moved to 3-4 on the season and EWU slipped to 2-6.
The 17-point comeback
was tied as the biggest under head coach Don Verlin and is the biggest road
comeback during his tenure.
"I thought we were
dead to rights," Verlin said of the 50-33 deficit with 15:53 to play. "They came
out and went on a 16-0 run to start the half after we'd made a couple defensive
mistakes, but I couldn't be prouder. I thought we battled very hard in the
second half and we found a way to win the ball game."
A Connor Hill
four-point play with 2:38 left in OT was the final lead change of the day, and
then Idaho senior guard Mansa Habeeb kissed a 10-footer off the glass for the
game-winning shot with 20.2 seconds to play.
"Rob (Harris) was
penetrating and I was wide open," Habeeb said of the shot. "I knew I was going
bank shot as soon as I got the ball and I just followed through and hit the shot
– it brought back some memories."
Habeeb got a hand in
EWU guard Justin Crosgile's face on the ensuing possession to help alter the
long 3-pointer and senior center Kyle Barone grabbed the board – his 11th of the
game – with two seconds to play. After a foul, Barone missed the front end of
the one-and-one, but junior guard Stephen Madison clinched it with his 10th
board of the evening.
Madison led all
players with a career-high 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting, along with 10
rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Barone added 20 points and
11 rebounds for his 12th career double-double, as well as a career-high five
assists and a career-high-tying five blocks. Hill and Habeeb tallied 10 points
each as Idaho's other two double-figure scorers.
As a team, the
Vandals hit 46.5 percent of their shots and went 4-of-13 (.308) from 3-point
range. They shot just 57.9 percent (11-19) from the free throw line, but made up
for their FT misses and 13 turnovers with a plus-21 rebounding margin (55-34),
17 second-chance points and 17 fast-break points.
"single-handedly kept them in the game," Verlin said. He finished the day with
26 points on 8-of-16 long-range shooting, as well as eight rebounds, four
assists and three steals in 44 minutes.
Forward Venky Jois
had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles, while Thomas Reuter had 11 points
and five boards, and center Martin Seiferth had 10 points. EWU shot 38.2 percent
overall and 32.4 percent from 3-point range, but capitalized in a big way on
Idaho's 13 giveaways with a 21-4 margin in points off
"It's unbelievable –
we shoot 46 percent, they shoot 38 (percent overall) and 32 (from 3-point
range)," Verlin said of the game. "We out-rebound them by 21, have 23 assists
and 13 turnovers – and we win in overtime. It was just a wild
It didn't seem like
it was going to be much of a game five minutes into the second half. Including a
3-pointer at the end of the first half, Eastern put together a 19-0 scoring run
to take a 50-33 lead at 15:53 in the game. During the run, Idaho looked hapless
on offense with five turnovers and only one shot attempt – a miss by junior
Marcus Bell – during the run.
Verlin said it would
have been easy to let it slip away with a loud home crowd and zero momentum, but
then it was Idaho's turn to run. The Vandals scored six in a row to get within
11 at 50-39, then after a Crosgile 3-pointer, rattled off 15 in a row to take a
54-53 lead with 8:16 to play.
In a span of five
minutes, Eastern Washington took a 17 lead, but then over the game's next seven
minutes, Idaho completely erased it.
Neither team led by
more than five for the remainder of regulation. The Vandals led by five, 67-62,
with 2:47 to play, but a Jois layup and a Crosgile triple tied it up at 67.
Idaho got several good looks on three offensive boards before time expired, but
none of its final three shots fell.
There's not much time
to savor the win for Idaho, because the Vandals fly out of Spokane, Wash., at 6
a.m. for a Saturday game at UTEP, which tips off at 6 p.m. (PT) at the Don
"I scheduled this
game because it's going to be just like a (Western Athletic Conference) road
trip – two games in three days," Verlin said. "We're going to enjoy this one
tonight and then fly out early tomorrow, get to El Paso and prepare for a very
tough UTEP team."
- Idaho's 21 offensive
rebounds are the most since Feb. 2, 2004, when the team had 26 in a 75-59 win
against Idaho State.
- Idaho's 55 total
rebounds are the most in Verlin's tenure and the first 50-plus rebounding game
since Nov. 28, 2008, when they had 50 in the team's 101-47 win over UC
- Idaho also had a
17-point comeback win at home against Seattle U on Feb. 7, 2012.
- Hill's four-point play
in overtime was the first by a Vandal since Shawn Henderson converted one on
Dec. 18, 2010 at home against Montana.
- Thursday's game was the
first time in Verlin's tenure that two players posted a 20-10 effort (Madison –
29/10 and Barone – 20/11) in the same game.
- Idaho is now 11-1 under
Verlin when scoring in the 80s.
- Including its 17
fast-break points last Saturday against UC Davis, Idaho now has 34 fast-break
points in its last two games and is outscoring its opponents on the break this
- Idaho's 55 rebounds in
the game are a WAC season high. It's 23 rebounds are the second-most by a WAC
team so far this season.
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