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Idaho can’t hold halftime lead, drops 14th straight in 67-65 loss to Portland State

MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho’s ongoing 14-game losing streak includes 11 double-digit losses and a 41-point drubbing at Montana. But the Vandals came within a missed shot at the buzzer of taking Portland State to overtime in a 67-65 nail biter that Idaho led most of the way.

“This one hurts. We got the effort we needed. Now we’ve got to figure how to win games,” Vandals coach Don Verlin said afterward.

In the final 17 seconds, Xavier Smith slashed into the lane and took an assist from Trevon Allen to bring the Vandals within a point. Holland Woods, the game’s leading scorer, widened the Vikings’ lead with a free throw for the last of his 17 points. PSU has now won five in a row. However, the latest was by the narrowest of margins, as the Vandals successfully inbounded the ball under their basket with about five seconds remaining and ran a play to give Allen a good look on a 15-foot jump shot that refused to stay down as the game concluded.

“I was leaning a little to the right,” Allen said. “But I’ve got to be able to knock that down.”

The Vikings attempted to apply relentless pressure with a full-court zone trap press. Idaho handled it well in the first half, committing just eight turnovers, knocking down 5 of 10 three-pointers and taking a 36-29 lead into the locker room. It was one of the few halftime leads Idaho has enjoyed.

“It gives you a boost of confidence,” Allen said.

Fatigue caught up with the short-handed Vandals after the break, though, according to Verlin. Idaho had just 10 players in uniform, and Geno West played with a broken nose and Cassius Smits-Francisco with groin and hip injuries. Idaho committed 11 second-half turnovers that included five steals.

“Turnovers in the second half cost us the game. We didn’t get enough shots on goal,” Verlin said.

Nonetheless, Idaho was able to fend off PSU until Michael Nuga rattled in a shot in the lane at the 6:43 mark to give the Vikings a 55-53 edge.

The Vandals got the lead back once more, 62-60, on Cameron Tyson’s long 3 with 3:11 to play. But PSU went into the lead for good, 63-62, on Rashaad Goolsby’s basket in the paint and a Woods free throw.

Jared Rodriguez led the Vandals with 13 points. Allen backed him with 10. Tyson, Smits-Francisco and RayQuandis Mitchell each scored 9, with Smits-Francisco and Mitchell coming off the bench for their points.

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