At home, Idaho jumped out to an early lead and never looked back en route to a 19-point win Thursday
The Idaho women’s basketball team kept the wins coming with a 72-53 win over New Mexico State at home Thursday night to complete the season sweep over the Aggies.
The Vandals (11-12, 8-4 WAC) entered the night third place in the WAC and notched another win to stay near the top of the conference standings. With just six regular season games remaining, the Vandals are still within striking distance of the top spot at the WAC Tournament.
Idaho coach Jon Newlee said with the season’s end on the horizon, the tournament is starting to enter the conversation.
“Every game is huge, we know that,” Newlee said. “We want to keep winning and keep moving up the standings the best we can and know that March is coming.”
Freshman Ali Forde had a fantastic night for Idaho, dropping a career-high 20 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and an assist. She was one of four players in double figures on the night and said putting up 20 points felt amazing.
“It felt pretty good to be honest,” Forde said. “I made all my layups and got some good passes, so I really have to give it to my teammates. ”
The Vandal offense was stellar in the first half, led by freshman Christina Salvatore who was 4 of 4 from the 3-point line for 12 points. After giving up the first basket of the game, the Vandals countered with a 7-0 run. The shots kept dropping for Idaho, who had a double-digit lead less than eight minutes into the period. The Aggies tightened up their defense a bit, but not enough to keep the Vandals form keeping the lead as Idaho went into the locker room, up 38-24.
“It was to get off to the good start,” Newlee said. “The start was huge and we talked about how we needed to get out and get after them and I thought our start was just what we wanted.”
Idaho started the second half right where it left off and built the lead up to 20 just less than four minutes into the half. After that the Aggies were able to threaten little as Idaho coasted to the win.
Forde said it was nice to lead big and retain it, which has been a struggle for Idaho this season.
“We played as a team tonight,” Forde said. “We got a lead and we kept it, so it was really nice.”
The Vandals will try to keep the wins coming with another home game on Saturday against Denver, whom they beat 68-60 earlier in the season. The game starts at 2 p.m. in the Cowan Spectrum.
“We’ve come a long way,” Forde said. “Our team dynamic is so much better now and just even getting to know the girls on the court and off the court as well, we play really well together now.”
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at email@example.com