The Idaho women’s basketball team shot just 3-of-22 from the field in the first half, and couldn’t dig out of the hole in the second, as the Vandals fell to Fresno State 80-55 in the Western Athletic Conference semifinals in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, on Friday.
Idaho finishes its season 12-20 overall and 6-8 in the WAC, and advanced to its second WAC semifinal in the last three years. The top-seeded Bulldogs (26-5, 13-1 WAC) advance to Saturday’s finals where they will face Louisiana Tech.
The Vandals missed several close-range shots in the first half, and committed 14 turnovers, which led to 14 Fresno State points, as the Bulldogs took a 33-14 lead into the break. The Vandals went over eight minutes into the game before getting on the scoreboard, while the Bulldogs jumped out to a 20-0 lead.
“Obviously the game didn’t go the way we planned it,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “The tone was set early when we missed layups from point-blank and they went down and converted. That kind of fed their fire a little bit. We played them well both times (in the regular season), especially in Fresno, and we came in with the same game plan. We got to the rim and we got shots early and we didn’t finish, and when we didn’t finish they took advantage of it.”
Idaho shot the ball much better in the second half, but the Bulldogs did as well. The Vandals went 13-of-30 (43.3 percent) from the field after the break, but Fresno State hit 56 percent of its shots, including five 3s.
“They played extremely well,” Newlee said. “That’s an extremely talented basketball team and they played a great game tonight.”
Idaho finished the game with 19 turnovers which led to 21 second-chance points for the Bulldogs. Fresno State also owned a 44-34 advantage on the glass and shot 43.5 percent from the field, while Idaho hit 30.8 percent of its shots.
“I don’t know why we came out more tentative this time,” Idaho sophomore Alyssa Charlston said. “We lacked confidence and it seemed like the beginning of the game was faster than we were thinking, faster than we were moving and we weren’t used to that.”
Charlston notched her 11th double-double of the season as she had team-highs with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and added a block and a steal. Freshman Stacey Barr finished with 12 points, while senior Keri Arendse had 11 points, six rebounds and an assist, and made all seven of her free-throw attempts.
Four Bulldogs scored in double figures, led by 19 points from WAC Player of the Year Ki-Ki Moore. Rosie Moult added 15 points, Blakely Goldberg scored 12 and Bree Farley chipped in with 10. The Bulldogs hit 11-of-30 3-pointers in the game.
Idaho was the fourth seed in the tournament and beat fifth-seeded San Jose State in the quarterfinals on Wednesday to earn a win in the WAC tournament for the third consecutive year.