Vandals battle in first half, fall short of upsetting No. 9 Baylor
A season-high 31-point performance from senior guard Stacey Barr wasn’t enough for Idaho to upset No. 9 ranked Baylor. The Bears beat the Vandals 88-70 Wednesday in Waco, Texas.
Idaho led for much of the first half and Baylor didn’t start to create some distance in scoring until late in the period. The Bears went into halftime with a 39-30 lead over Idaho.
Now, the Vandals continue their road trip with the Glass City Tournament Saturday in Toledo, Ohio.
“I thought we battled against a team that has tremendous size and athleticism,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “Eventually that wore us down inside. Too much Kristy Wallace … she had a heck of a game, probably the best game she’ll ever have.”
Wallace, Baylor’s freshman guard from Loganholme, Australia, shot an astounding 67 percent from the 3-point line in the game to finish with 24 points, but she is not usually a great 3-point shooter, Newlee said. On top of that, Idaho played without starting post Brooke Reilly who is still out with an injury. If those two factors were switched, Idaho might have come out with the upset, Newlee said.
“For us, we battled. I loved our intensity, I loved the way we got after it,” Newlee said. “There’s no moral victories, but I’m really proud of our team, the way our team came in here and represented the Vandals. I think (Baylor coach Kim) Mulkey figured out there is more than potatoes in Idaho.”
Idaho used a slim lineup for the game playing only eight players to Baylor’s 11. It resulted in four of Idaho’s starters scoring in double figures, but also led to some fatigue later in the game, Newlee said.
In addition to Barr, junior post Ali Forde, junior guard Christina Salvatore and junior guard Connie Ballestero had 10 or more points.
“It was nice to see Connie breakout and shoot the ball the way I know she’s capable of,” Newlee said. “She shot the ball great in practice yesterday, great in warm ups. I’m glad to see her translate that into the game because we need her to be a scorer for us when she’s open and knock those shots down like shedid tonight.”
Forde had her best game of the season to date with 14 points and nine rebounds. She was also solid on the defensive end with three blocks and two steals.
“Ali was just battling,” Newlee said. “She was getting tired in the second half … Without Brooke Reilly tonight, it really hurt
Barr’s 31 points were the most impressive stat of the night, but she also had 10 turnovers in the game. Newlee said Barr loves the big game atmosphere and playing against big-time players.
“She’s a big-time player and she proves it every time we go against teams of this caliber,” Newlee said. “She proved it again tonight.”
Newlee credited Idaho’s solid performance against a top 10 team in the nation to how battle tested the Vandals are. In recent years, the Vandals have played national powerhouses UConn, Louisville, Cal and Gonzaga in addition to Baylor.
“I think we came in here with confidence,” he said. “To be able to come into this kind of environment and play well as we did, it hurts not coming away with a victory playing as well as we did, but we’ll just learn from this as well and continue to grow and get better as the year goes along.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org