An up-and-down season continued for the Idaho women’s basketball team over the weekend. The Vandals have had a pattern of win-lose-win-lose over the past seven games and that didn’t change over the weekend in the 33rd Lady Griz Classic where they went 1-1.
Idaho (6-4) opened the classic with a harrowing loss to former, and future, conference foe Montana (5-1) on Friday in Missoula, Mont. The Vandals powered to a 53-52 lead late in the game off a 7-0 scoring run to get a chance at the win. The final three minutes of the game had three lead changes and a tie before the Grizzlies barely edged out the Vandals with the 59-56 victory.
Sophomore guard Christina Salvatore, who had three 3-pointers and nine points on the day, had a chance at a game-tying three in the closing seconds, but she was off the mark. Sophomore post Ali Forde led Idaho with 13 points.
“I think it came down to that last minute,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “They (Montana) made a couple of big shots and we had some pretty good looks but did not make them. I told our guys it was
not won or lost then. I feel like we lost the game coming out flat to start the second half. I think there was a stretch in that first half where things kind of spiraled for us. One person is not going to win the game for us. We have to play together as a team when things get a little rocky.”
Idaho had no time to dwell in the loss as the team turned around to play Appalachian State (1-7) on Saturday in its second game of the Lady Griz Classic. The Vandals dismantled the Mountaineers with ease, winning 83-60 while having five players score double figures. Fifty-four of those points came in the second half on nearly 57 percent shooting.
“I thought we started the game great,” Newlee said. “We got up 8-0 and my guys acted like the game was over. I was very disappointed with our lack of effort the last 15 minutes of the first half. At the half, we had a little talk about energy and levels and playing Vandal basketball. They did a great job responding to that in the second half.”
Salvatore had another good game from 3-point land hitting four threes in the game en route to 14 points. The four other Vandals to hit double figures were senior Alyssa Charlston (16), sophomore Connie Ballestero (13), freshman Brooke Reilly (13) and team leader Stacey Barr (23).
“Coach told us we needed to come out with a little more effort and enthusiasm,” Salvatore said. “You have to give credit to Appalachian State, they wanted it more in that first half. We had to come out and play like the WAC Champions that we are.”
The Vandals return home this week to play their third home game of the season and second against an NAIA opponent. Idaho faces Lewis-Clark State College Wednesday in Memorial Gym. It is a regular non-conference game for Idaho but it will be an exhibition game for undefeated LCSC.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com