Vandals' season ends with WNIT loss at UC Davis - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Vandals' season ends with WNIT loss at UC Davis

Photo: Idaho Athletics Photo: Idaho Athletics

By Idaho Athletics

DAVIS, Calif.—The Pavilion on the campus of UC Davis proved to be one of the toughest places in the country to play this season. The Idaho Vandals learned that first hand, falling to the Aggies 82-62 in the first round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament on Thursday.

Taylor Pierce led the Vandals in scoring with 19 points. She hit three of Idaho's five 3's on the day, finishing with 137 on the season. Mikayla Ferenz closed the season with 18 points in the loss, passing Emily Faurholt for Idaho's single-season scoring record now at 742.

How it Happened
UC Davis's Morgan Bertsch totaled 20 first-half points, helping the Aggies to a 47-27 lead at the half. UC Davis opened the game hitting 85.7 percent (6-7) from the floor, putting Idaho in an early 14-8 hole. The Aggies lead grew to 22-14 by the end first.

Idaho (19-14) got back to within 10 points on five different occasions in the second quarter. Pierce hit her second 3-pointer of the quarter, narrowing the UCD lead to 36-36. The Aggies closed the half on a 9-1 run, holding Idaho to without a field goal in the final 4:06.

The Vandals and Aggies traded shots in the second half, with both teams scoring 35 points in the final 20 minutes. Idaho would cut the Davis lead down to 17 at the start of the fourth quarter but that was as close as it got the rest of the way.

The loss closes out the careers of Nejra Solo and Geraldine McCorkell. Solo closed the game with four points and a team-high eight rebounds. McCorkell finished with nine points and five boards. She closes her time at Idaho eighth all-time in scoring with 1,552 career points.

Bertsch closed the night with 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting.

Keys
UC Davis' hot start proved too much to come back from. The Aggies outscored Idaho 22-14 in the first quarter, hitting 62.5 percent (10-16) in the period. Bertsch totaled 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting to jumpstart the Aggies.

Idaho started 3-for-3 from the field but finished the quarter 6-16. The Vandals went almost three minutes without a field goal, allowing UC Davis to build up its lead.

Quotes
Head Coach Jon Newlee
Overall thoughts
"We got off to a bad start defensively. Not getting back in transition really killed us. They were running the floor like crazy, especially their big kid. We knew that and our defensive miscommunication really got us in a hole fast."

On the second half
"We talked at halftime about playing with heart and desire. I think at the start of the game we had a few players with the deer in the headlights look. I don't know if they magnified the fact that they were playing in the WNIT. I saw it [last week] in the [Big Sky] championship game as well. When you are playing young players that will happen. I thought those players played better in the second half and as a group, we certainly played much better defense. I was really proud of the effort in the second half. Our execution was much better and our defense was a heck of a lot better."

On the play of Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce this season
"What a fantastic year both of them had. Setting the NCAA record for combined 3s. I've never had a better backcourt. They certainly are the Splash Sisters. They got after it and had so many huge games. The way they play together so unselfishly. The way they give the ball up to each other and their teammates. There are no ball hogs out here. They did all of this within the confines of our offense. My hat goes off to both of them."

Notes
Idaho did not hit a 3 in the first quarter (0-4)…the Vandals hit five 3s, ending the season with 346 (third most in school history)…McCorkell went 3-3 from the free-throw line, ending her career eighth in program history with 323 free throws made…the Vandals out-rebounded UC Davis, 32-30…Idaho also outscored them on second-chance points, 13-5.

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