by Michelle Dapper, SWX Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
VERMILLION, S.D. – The Idaho women's basketball team build an early six point lead on two occasions in the first half of its first postseason game in 25 years, but a 30.6 percent (19-of-62) shooting performance by the Vandals was too much to overcome, as South Dakota topped Idaho 62-47 in the opening round of the Women's Basketball Invitational on Thursday.
The 30.6 percent was Idaho's third-lowest shooting percentage in 31 games on the season, and the Vandals connected on just 4-of-24 3-point attempts in the game.
The Vandals (15-16) turned the ball over only 12 times, missing the fewest turnovers for Idaho in a game this season by just one. Idaho went to the free throw line just six times, connecting on five, and owned a 43-41 advantage one the glass.
The Vandals also held South Dakota to 37.7 percent shooting (20-of-53) and 33.3 (5-of-15) from long range, but it wasn't enough to overcome a cold night on the other end of the floor.
South Dakota committed only nine turnovers in the game, and was able to turn Idaho's 12 turnovers into 20 points. The Coyotes (20-11) had 16 assists on 20 made field goals in the game.
Idaho was led by the 17th double-double of the season from Yinka Olorunnife, who finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Derisa Taleni had 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting for the Vandals, and also had six rebounds and two assists. Rachele Kloke finished with eight points and five rebounds for Idaho.
The Coyotes were led by 10 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks by Jodie Boss, who connected on 4-of-9 shots in the game and added an assist. Amber Hegge had 16 points for South Dakota, Tempestt Wilson had 13 and Nadia Tronick added 10 off the bench.
After early Idaho leads of 6-0 and 8-2, South Dakota came back to tie the game at 8-8, and took its first lead at 11-10 off a 3-pointer from Annie Roche. The lead went back-and-forth until USD pulled ahead 15-14 on a pair of free throws from Hegge with 7:47 to play in the first half in the midst of a 6-0 Coyote spurt that put South Dakota up for good.
Idaho went into the break trailing by five, 24-19, but South Dakota expanded its lead to nine points at 32-23 before Idaho scored five straight points to pull within four with 13:17 remaining. But after Idaho trailed 34-30, the Coyotes went on a 13-4 run to take a 13-point lead with under nine minutes to play, and led by double figures for the remainder of the game.
With the win, South Dakota advances to the WBI West Region semifinals, where it will visit Cal. State-Bakersfield.
The loss ends one of the best seasons in years for the Vandals. Idaho's 15 wins are the most in a season since 2004-05, and the Vandals reached the postseason for the first time since winning the 1986 WNIT. Idaho also beat in-state rival Boise State three times in one season for the first time in program history, and sent the Broncos out of the Western Athletic Conference for good with a 70-59 win in the opening round of the WAC tournament.