Vandal Women Fall to Northern Colorado in Big Sky Championship G - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Vandal Women Fall to Northern Colorado in Big Sky Championship Game

Photo: Idaho Athletics Photo: Idaho Athletics

by Idaho Athletics

RENO, Nev. - A hot-shooting Northern Colorado Bears squad was too much to overcome on Saturday in the Big Sky Championship game, with Idaho falling, 91-69.  The Vandals have already earned an automatic bid to the 2018 WNIT, and will find out their destination and opponent on Monday.

How it Happened
Northern Colorado stole a page out of the Vandals' playbook and let it fly from distance. The Bears connected on 14-of-25 from 3, including 9-of-12 in the first half.

Big Sky Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Savannah Smith led the 3-point barrage. Her 3 to end the first quarter put the Bears up 19-16. She hit again at the start of the second to give UNC a six-point lead. She closed the afternoon 5-for-6 from deep and went 11-of-18 from the field for 34 points.

The Vandals led five times in the first. A 7-0 run in the second put Idaho up 23-22 with 6:32 left on the clock. The Bears followed with an 11-0 run to go up by 10, 33-23. The two sides swapped the lead eight times in the first half.

UNC pushed the lead to 24 points in the third quarter, slimming the Vandals chances for a comeback. 

Geraldine McCorkell led the way for Idaho with 20 points and nine rebounds. The Splash Sisters, Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce, added 18 points each. Pierce knocked down four 3-pointers, giving her a Big Sky Tournament record 20 3's, breaking Ferenz's record of 16 set in 2016. The duo was selected to the All-Tournament team after the game.
Idaho set a number of Big Sky Tournament records, including made 3's with 36, breaking their own record set in 2016.

The Vandals could not find an answer for the Bears' hot shooting. UNC shot 75 percent from 3 in each of the first two quarters, including a 6-for-8 performance in the second quarter.

UNC added five more 3's in the second half. They added an 18-for-32 (56.2 percent) showing in the half to close out the Vandals.

Head Coach Jon Newlee
Overall thoughts
"I thought it started pretty well for us. The first quarter was pretty even. We were right there. They just got hot. Give them a lot of credit. I thought defensively they did a good job of really pushing us out of our spots and were aggressive. I don't think we handled it as well as we could have. They were making shots and when Smith gets going like that she is hard to guard. Credit to them. They came out and played extremely hard. They are a talented basketball team and will be a great representative of the Big Sky in the NCAA Tournament."

On continuing to play this season
"This isn't the last game. We have an automatic WNIT bid. We don't know who we are playing but it's not their last game. I'm glad we get to continue. We want to go out and play better the next time for sure. It is great for our program that we can continue to play in the postseason."

On the impact of this game
"In the past, we have gotten to the finals and won. I haven't been on this side of it. It is a different feeling for sure. We will learn from it. It is a hard loss. You work so hard all year to get to this point. You want to win it all. Only one team does. I think I heard Tricia [Binford] say that. Only one team gets to leave happy with the confetti and hearing the song. Both these guys [Ferenz and McCorkell] have had that experience and now we are on this side. Sometimes you get beat and we got beat tonight. They outplayed us tonight and they deserve to go to the NCAA Tournament."

Junior Mikayla Ferenz
On growing from this experience
"I'm excited that I have another year because this experience is priceless. I think it will help us down the road. We are a young team. This will help down the road and hopefully next year we can come out with a championship."

Ferenz now has 724 career points, second in program history (737, Emily Faurholt)...She has attempted a school record 557 field goals this season...Pierce has 134 3FG this season, second-most in the NCAA...Ferenz is at 297 3FG after Saturday...Both Ferenz and Pierce played in their 100th career game today..Pierce scored 70 points in three tournament games, Ferenz finished the tournament with 67.

Idaho will learn its opponent and destination for the first round of the WNIT on Monday. The opening round of the tournament is set for Mar. 14-16. 

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