Cowan Spectrum gets in the way, Vandals overcome and win
It was an odd first game back inside the Cowan Spectrum.
The Vandals won 79-71 over previously undefeated UC Davis, but not before the Spectrum court tried to get in the way.
With Idaho up 16-14 midway through the first half, the referees sent both teams to their benches and huddled at half court. After a lengthy discussion it was announced Idaho would be called for an administrative technical foul for not having a charge circle painted underneath each basket. The foul led to two made free throws for UC Davis.
“I wasn’t aware (it wasn’t there),” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “Hey, it’s an eight-point win. It could have been 10 … Setting up the Cowan Spectrum and all that — it’s just a detail that got left out. But hey, no harm, no foul.”
Last season, the makeshift stadium inside the Kibbie Dome had its fair share of problems — a pregame power outage, a clock malfunction and even a section of bleachers collapsing before the Seattle U game.
The technical foul allowed UC Davis to tie the game. The Aggies then outscored Idaho 22-14 and took a 38-30 lead into halftime.
“I felt our energy was going down even before (the technical foul),” senior point guard Mike Scott said. “So, I mean that was already coming, but I’m happy we got it together.”
After UC Davis held its biggest lead of 10 points four minutes into the second half, Idaho went on a 16-6 run and tied the game at 50 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. From there, Idaho outscored UC Davis 29-21 to win the game.
With its second straight win, Idaho (4-3) looks to continue the streak at Western Illinois for a 5 p.m. game Thursday at Macomb, Illinois. UC Davis (6-1) looks to get back to its winning ways with a game against Eastern Illinois Tuesday.
The administrative technical foul wasn’t the only unusual call. Along with warnings given to both teams for not breaking their huddles fast enough, a bench warning was called on Idaho assistant coaches for standing up during the game.
“It was the weirdest thing,” Verlin said. “They said no assistant could stand up, which is ridiculous — when play was going he was just coaching the team, he wasn’t yelling at the officials or anything like that … Let’s concentrate on officiating the game, not worrying about all the other stuff that really doesn’t matter.”
The officiating, however, did not faze Scott.
“I felt like there’s been odd calls all year, and I feel like it only happens to us for some reason,” he said. “I mean, we’re use to it, we’re playing through it … they can’t stop us from getting to our goal.”
Scott led the team with 19 points while finishing with four assists, three rebounds and zero turnovers.
Scott’s impressive performance came on a day when Idaho honored senior shooting guard Connor Hill by giving away 500 T-shirts with his No. 5 on the front.
“He played great and he ran the team great like he always does,” Hill said of his point guard. “Mike is unselfish, so if his shots not there, he’s willing to pass … I’m just glad we won, that’s really all that matters.”
Hill wasn’t far behind Scott, as he finished with 16 points. All in all, the Vandals had four players in double figures. Along with Scott and Hill, sophomore shooting guard Sekou Wiggs finished with 13 points and freshman power forward Arkadiy Mkrtychyan finished in double figures, scoring all his 12 points in the second half.
With each game, Scott said the team is growing more comfortable with each other on offense, but wants to see more progress on the other end of the court.
“We got a good offense here and we got great offensive players,” he said. “As everybody says, defense wins championships. Yeah, we got four guys that can put the ball in the hoop, but we got to get stops on the other end.”
Verlin said some of his best teams have been when he had four or five guys who scored, instead of having only one or two players.
“We got to be a blue collar team that can defend and rebound if we’re going to have a chance to win the Big Sky Conference,” Verlin said.
Korbin McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org