Idaho sent its seniors off in style with a 72-59 win over Texas State Saturday night in the Cowan Spectrum, completing the season sweep over the Bobcats.
With the win the Vandals clinched the third seed in the WAC Tournament.
It was senior night for Idaho and seniors Jessica Graham and Ana Overgaard were honored before the game. Overgaard, originally an Idaho walk-on, got her first career start.
After the game a tearful Overgaard said it showed her how far she’s come from when she walked-on to the team.
I never imagined I’d be on the team at all or even practicing with the team,” Overgaard said. “It’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I’ve never really thought about it until to night when I realized how far I’ve come and having my name called, it was just so much more than I thought it would be emotionally.”
The first half was a back-and-forth battle that saw seven lead changes. Freshman Christina Salvatore led Idaho in the first half by hitting five 3-pointers for Idaho, scoring the first nine points of the game for the Vandals. The two teams traded blows for most of the half, but Idaho built a small lead at the end of the period and took a 36-30 lead into the locker room.
The Vandals picked up where they left off in the second half, and built the lead up to double digits just four minutes in. Seattle U. got within five at one point, but Idaho put the pedal down and claimed the victory.
Idaho coach Jon Newlee said he was happy with the way his team came out and defended the home court.
“I thought it was a total team effort tonight without a doubt,” Newlee said. “We were sharing the basketball, real happy with the overall effort and performance.”
Starting at the four-minute mark, the crowd started chanting for Overgaard, and Newlee put her in with just more than a minute to go. Right after she got in, Overgaard made a layup, sending the Vandal crowd into frenzy.
Overgaard said it was the perfect way to end her last home game.
It was so surreal,” Overgaard said. “It was the ultimate dream moment, to score at the end of your senior night. If I could write my own story, that’s exactly how it would be. It was just perfect.”
Idaho had three players in double figures, led by Salvatore’s 15. Charlston also had 13 and Ali Forde had 11, all coming in the second half.
Diamond Ford, the WAC’s leading scorer, continued her success and put up 27 against Idaho.
Alyssa Charlston said sometimes it doesn’t matter what a defense does, Ford will still score.
“She’s a player,” Charlston said. “She’s incredible at what she does and you have to give her respect, and most teams do center their game plan around her defensively.”
The Vandals will conclude the regular season on Saturday when they travel to Seattle U. The Redhawks are currently sitting on top of the WAC standings and beat the Vandals in the first conference game of the year.
Graham said it felt good to walk away with a win on her senior night.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve had all year,” Graham said. “Our team came out tonight and I feel like they played for us.”
The WAC Tournament begins March 12, and Graham said the team is ready and has high expectations.
“We’re really confident,” Graham said. “We have the potential to win the WAC and I feel like we’re not going to stop until we get there.”
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org