The Idaho women’s basketball team built a 50-30 second-half lead against Louisiana Tech, but the Lady Techsters roared back in the final 16 minutes and outscored the Vandals 37-8 to steal a 67-58 Western Athletic Conference win Thursday night.
A 12-1 Idaho run near the end of the first half put the Vandals ahead by 14 at 32-18, and the Vandals eventually took a nine point, 36-27 lead into the break after shooting 40 percent from the field.
“We came out strong. We played extremely well in the first half on both ends of the floor,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “We did what we wanted to do defensively except the o-boards hurt us at times. Offensively we got what we wanted. We were taking great shots, getting good looks. There’s a reason we shot as well as we did in the first half, it’s because we were running our offense well and sharing the basketball.”
The Vandals came out of the gates fast in the second half, outscoring the Lady Techsters 14-3 in the first four minutes to build a 20-point advantage, their largest lead of the night. But that’s when LA Tech began its run. A 7-0 spurt that took two and a half minutes cut Idaho’s lead to 13. The Vandals led by 15, 55-40, when LA Tech really turned up the heat. The Lady Techsters used a 17-0 run to take a 57-55 lead with three and a half minutes left. The Vandals tied the game at 57-57, but LA Tech outscored Idaho 10-1 in the final three minutes to take home the win.
“We got the big lead, then we had people rushing shots, taking quick shots, getting careless with the basketball,” Newlee said. “From a defensive standpoint, we were giving them some open looks that let them get going and get on a streak. Turnovers led to some points, and their o-boards and second shot opportunities really hurt us.”
Idaho was attempting to beat LA Tech for the first time in series between the two programs, but instead falls to 0-16 all-time against the Lady Techsters. The loss drops the Vandals to 6-11 on the season and 3-3 in WAC play. LA Tech improves to 8-8 overall and 4-2 in the WAC.
The Vandals were led by junior Alyssa Charlston’s 16 points and nine boards. She went 4-of-11 from the field, 3-of-4 from 3-point range and 5-of-7 from the free-throw line, but after knocking down two quick 3-pointers early in the second half, didn’t score in the game’s final 17 minutes. Freshman Christina Salvatore added 14 points and went 4-of-10 from long range, but did all of her scoring in the first half. She added seven rebounds, two steals and a block. Ali Forde added eight points and six rebounds for Idaho.
The Vandals shot 35.0 percent, 21-of-60 in the game, while LA Tech shot 41.8 percent, and 50 percent, 13-of-26, in the second half. The Lady Techsters hit 4-of-10 second-half 3s and also got aggressive with the basketball, going 10-of-18 from the free throw line in the second half, while Idaho made 1-of-3 second half free throws.
While Idaho held a slim advantage in turnovers, giving up 18 while forcing 19, LA Tech outscored the Vandals 19-12 off turnovers. The Lady Techsters also owned a 42-34 rebounding advantage and an 8-7 edge on second chance points.
LA Tech was led by 16 points and five steals from Janay Borum. Brittany Lewis, who was held to zero points and two rebounds in the first half, finished with a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double. Jelena Vucinic added 12 points off the bench for LA Tech.
The Vandals will look to get back above .500 in WAC play on Saturday when they host UT Arlington in the Cowan Spectrum at 6 p.m.