MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho men's basketball used a 20-2 first-half scoring run and a solid second-half defensive effort and rolled to a 91-47 victory over Walla Walla University on Saturday at the Cowan Spectrum.
Twelve Idaho (4-5) players scored and Idaho shot .525 from the field and .364 from 3-point range while holding WWU (2-16) to just .262 overall and .222 three-point shooting on the day. Both teams attempted 61 field goals, but Idaho made 32 to WWU's 16.
The Wolves hung around in the game's first eight minutes and pulled within four points, 16-12, at the 12:02 mark of the first half, but that's as close as it was for the remainder of the game. Idaho rattled off a 20-2 scoring run over the next seven minutes to go up by 22 points, 36-14.
The team took a 50-23 lead into the half – its biggest halftime lead and most first-half points of the Don Verlin era – and led by at least 23 points for the entire second half. Idaho clinched its second-largest margin of victory under Verlin by holding the Wolves to 23.3 percent second-half shooting and keeping WWU without a field goal over the game's final five minutes – during which time the team outscored the Wolves, 14-0.
"We put in a lot of work this week in practice, so I thought they were a little heavy-legged tonight, but we executed pretty well, we rebounded hard and I liked the way some of our guys played," Idaho head coach Don Verlin said after the game.
Senior center Kyle Barone led the team with 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting, along with six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 17 minutes of play. Junior guard Stephen Madison put in 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while senior guard Mike McChristian scored a career-high 13 points.
As a team, Idaho went 32-of-61 (.525) from the floor and added a 19-of-23 (.826) free throw shooting day. The Vandals had a season-best plus-24 (52-28) rebounding margin, outscored WWU 10-0 on the fast break, 12-5 off turnovers and 13-3 on the second chance.
McChristian said the coaching staff emphasized defense all week long and that it showed in the second half on Saturday.
"I think we did a better job in the second half after we got settled in on the defensive end," McChristian said. "He (Verlin) kind of harped on us all week about defense, because we're going to score offensively, but if we want to take it to the next level as a team, we have to get better on defense."
Forward Ryan Spady led WWU with 14 points on 3-of-9 shooting. He went 8-of-10 from the free throw line and added a team-high four assists. Tyreek Luckett added eight points, but no other Walla Walla player scored more than five.
The loudest cheer of the night – and the two loudest groans – when walk-ons Max Salesky and Westin Hill, respectively, made a layup and rimmed out a pair of 3-pointers. It was Salesky's first career points. Hill blocked a shot on the defensive end and Salesky added a defensive board.
Verlin said it was nice to get the two into the game and reward their efforts in practice on the scout team.
"Those guys deserved to get in and probably a little earlier than I put them in," Verlin said of Salesky and Hill. "Our scout team guys work really hard and they get no credit at all. Along with Mac Stannard and Allen Jiles, they do a great job on our scout team and it's always nice to be able to throw them a bone and get them in the game."
The level of difficulty takes a sharp turn upward next week, when the Vandal men play Boise State on Thursday at 6 p.m. (PT) at downtown Boise's CenturyLink Arena. The Broncos are 7-2 overall and coming off an 89-70 home win over LSU on Friday.
Very limited quantities of tickets still remain for the game, which will also be televised on ROOT SPORTS Northwest. Tickets can be purchased online at www.CenturyLinkArenaBoise.com or over the phone at 888-330-TIXS (8497).
MOSCOW, Idaho - Former University of Idaho football coach Robb Akey has confirmed to SWX that he has filed a lawsuit against the university.More >>
MOSCOW, Idaho - Former University of Idaho football coach Robb Akey has confirmed to SWX that he has filed a lawsuit against the university. Akey declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said he's been having fun chasing his two kids around and is looking forward to fishing this summer. He is looking to coach again, and has also considered doing some broadcast work.More >>