Vandals season ended by Utah State
University of Idaho men's basketball missed 13 of its first 14 shots and never got on track in a 76-56 loss at Utah State on Saturday in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
The loss ends Idaho's season with a 19-14 record. The Vandals came up just short of their first 20-win season in 19 years, but still posted their most wins since the 1992-93 team went 24-8. Utah State (19-15) advances to the CIT quarterfinal round.
Idaho didn't score until the 15:34 mark and didn't hit a field goal for the first five minutes of the game. USU wasn't much better over the first five minutes, as the Aggies made just two of their first 10 attempts. Once USU found its touch at the 14:01 mark, leading 6-3, Idaho wasn't able to hang around.
The Aggies rattled off 13 unanswered points on 4-of-7 shooting to take a 19-3 lead at 9:32 of the first and never trailed by less than 12 points from then on out. Idaho didn't crack double figures until 5:37 remained in the first half and saw itself down by as many as 24 points in the first half.
After Utah State took a 39-16 lead into the break, Idaho outscored the Aggies 40-37 in the second half, but pushed the deficit below 20 points on just two occasions in the period.
"They haven't won 92 percent of their games here for no reason at all," Verlin said of the Aggies. "This game needs to be flushed down the toilet. I don't think we need to focus on this game as far as our season."
As a team, Idaho shot just 40.8 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. No Idaho player reached double-digit scoring, as junior Kyle Barone and sophomore Stephen Madison scored nine points apiece.
Utah State shot 51.9 percent in the first half and finished the game shooting 29-of-59 (.492) from the floor. The Aggies also went 6-of-16 (.375) from 3-point range and 12-of-14 (.857) from the free throw line.
Idaho held a 33-30 rebounding edge, but gave up 10 offensive boards that USU turned into 13 second-chance points. The Vandals also committed 18 turnovers - six on traveling violations alone - which led to 21 Aggie points.
Despite the loss, Verlin said he's still proud of the way the team responded to adversity this season. After losing three straight games by a single possession in late December, the Vandals won 12 of their final 18 games, posted their best Western Athletic Conference record in school history and qualified for postseason for the third time in four years.
"They played with their hearts all year long," Verlin said of his team. "There were numerous times where we could have cashed it in. This team did a number of unbelievable things, and things that you have to be proud of."
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