McCorkell Leads Idaho to 2-0 Start in Big Sky Play - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

McCorkell Leads Idaho to 2-0 Start in Big Sky Play

Idaho improved to 2-0 in conference play for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Idaho improved to 2-0 in conference play for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Three key fourth quarter 3-pointers from sophomore Geraldine McCorkell helped Idaho to its third win in a row on Saturday. The Vandals beat Northern Colorado, 66-56, evening the all-time series at a game apiece.

Idaho (10-4, 2-0 BSC) held an eight point lead with 7:26 to play in the fourth quarter. The Vandals started the period 1-for-4 before McCorkell hit the first of her 3’s with 6:21 to play, putting Idaho up 53-42. She hit her second trey in a row on the Vandals’ very next possession. McCorkell’s third three in a span of 1:50 capped a 9-5 run for the Vandals, giving them a 59-47 lead with 4:31 to play.

“I was just happy they went it,” McCorkell admitted. “We were not really falling into a slump but we needed to get going somehow. I think those [the 3’s] really helped.”

McCorkell’s nine points in the final quarter helped Idaho to a 20-point period, its best of the game. The Australian post recorded her fourth career double-double, leading the team in points with 17 and rebounds with 10. Christina Salvatore and Ali Forde joined McCorkell in double figures, posting 10 points.

“Everybody stepped up—somebody different,” head coach Jon Newlee said. “That is our mentality. I give them the green light and we took advantage of that today.”

The Silver and Gold enjoyed a 37-28 lead at the break. Idaho shot 37.9 percent (11-for-29) in the first half, after starting 0-6. UNC outshot Idaho in the first half, going 44.4 percent (12-for-27) from the field. Idaho was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line, proving to be the difference in the half.

UNC (5-7, 02 BSC) opened the third on a 5-0 run, cutting the Idaho lead to 37-33. Karlee Wilson put the Vandals back up by seven, 40-33, with an open three from the right corner with 7:16 to go in the third. Idaho would hit two more field goals, including a second three from Wilson, going 3-for-12 from the field in the quarter. The Vandal defense kept the lead intact, holding the Bears to a comparable 4-for-12.

“Defensively, we did not let our offensive struggle affect us like we have maybe in the past,” Newlee noted. "I think we are really buying into our defense first mentality. Our team really dug down and got some great stops when we were struggling offensively.”

Idaho out-rebounded the Bears, 37-29. Idaho grabbed 27 defensive boards limiting UNC to just two second-chance points. UNC’s 29 total boards was the second lowest allowed by the Vandals this season, only to CSUN’s 26.

Northern Colorado’s Kourteney Zadina led all players with 19 points. Savannah Scott added 10 points for the Bears.

Connie Ballestero and Wilson each totaled nine points for Idaho. Wilson hit a career-high three shots from behind the arc. Ballestero helped lead the charge from the free-throw line, going 4-for-4. McCorkell and Forde were also hit all four of their attempts from the charity stripe. Renae Mokrzycki went 2-for-2, extending her consecutive made free throw streak to 10 over the last four games. As a team Idaho finished 14-of-15 from the line.

“Once everybody is clicking and we are playing as a unit—we do not think we can be stopped,” Wilson exclaimed. “We come out with a chip on our shoulder every game. We know that we have to prove ourselves.”

The Vandals are off until next Saturday, Jan. 9, when Eastern Washington comes to the Cowan Spectrum.

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