Vandals Earn Road Sweep With Win Over Southern Utah - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Vandals Earn Road Sweep With Win Over Southern Utah

Ali Forde and the Vandals topped Southern Utah 62-51 on Saturday. Ali Forde and the Vandals topped Southern Utah 62-51 on Saturday.

by Idaho Athletics

CEDAR CITY, Utah-The Vandals overcame a 13-point deficit on Saturday on their way to their first Big Sky Conference road-sweep since 1993. Idaho overcame a poor first quarter shooting performance to out-score Southern Utah in the final three quarters, earning the 62-51 win inside Centrum Arena.

Idaho (12-5, 4-1 BSC) shot just 4-for-21 (19 percent) in the game's first minutes. The shaky start from the field allowed Southern Utah to jump out to a 19-8 lead. Dari Frandsen hit a jumper 57 seconds into the second quarter, putting the Thunderbirds up by 13.

"We dug ourselves a big hole there," head coach Jon Newlee acknowledged. "Early on I thought we had some good looks that we usually hit. They just were not going down."

Senior Ali Forde, who scored eight of Idaho's first 11 points, cut SUU's lead down to 11 with 7:40 remaining in the period. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Christina Salvatore gave the Vandals an 8-0 run, trimming the Thunderbird advantage to five, 21-16, with 6:14 to play until the half. The T-Birds regained the 11-point lead off a Jamie Smith 3 with 4:02 on the clock. The Vandals cut the lead back down to eight at the break, out-scoring SUU, 15-12 in the second.

"Ali was huge for us on the glass in that second quarter," Newlee pointed out. "As a team we talked about rebounding and blocking out. We could not keep giving them the offensive boards they got in the first quarter."

Southern Utah (3-12, 0-5 BSC) out-rebounded Idaho in the first half, 25-22, including a 17-9 first quarter performance. Forde and Salvatore combined for seven of Idaho's 13 second quarter rebounds. As a team the Vandals limited the Thunderbirds to just one offensive board in the second quarter.

A 9-2 run for the Vandals cut the SUU lead to three in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Sophomore Geraldine McCorkell, who was 0-for-7 in the first half, converted on back-to-back layups to tie the game at 36 with 4:14 to play in the third. McCorkell totaled seven points in the third, helping spark the Vandal offense. A pair of free-throws from senior Renae Mokrzycki tied the game, for the third time in the quarter, to close the period knotted at 41.

The Vandals scored quickly to open the fourth quarter off a Connie Ballestero layin. Idaho jumped out to a 48-41 lead, using a 7-0 run to open the final frame. Southern Utah cut the Idaho lead to three points, 48-45, with just under six minutes remaining. A McCorkell 3 put the Vandals up by nine, 54-45, with 4:30 to go. Idaho went 4-for-4 down the stretch from the free-throw line in the final minutes.

"This team knows what it is like to be in these tough games," Newlee noted. "Nobody was hanging their heads. They knew we had the ability to come back and it showed tonight.

"Tonight showed the heart we have. It is not just our seniors showing the confidence and leadership it is everybody.

McCorkell led the Vandals with 14 points, all coming in the second half. Freshman Mikayla Ferenz helped spark the Vandals offense in the second half, hitting 3 shots from beyond the arc. She finished with 13 points and three rebounds. Forde earned her 17th career double-double, closing with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Frandsen led the Thunderbirds with 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Silver and Gold open up a two-game homestand on Thursday, Jan. 21, against Montana. The Vandals will close the week on Saturday, Jan. 23, with Montana State. 

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