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Idaho women to host Utah State in WBI tournament

UPDATED: Tue., March 14, 2017

Idaho, which finished the regular season fifth in the Big Sky Conference, accepted a bid to the Women’s Basketball Invitational and will host a first-round matchup against Utah State on Wednesday as part of a doubleheader with Idaho’s men’s team, which plays Stephen F. Austin in the Tournament.

The women tip at 5:30 p.m. and the men start at 8.

This is the sixth postseason trip for the Vandals under coach Jon Newlee. This is the second appearance for Idaho in the WBI, also participating in 2011, Newlee’s first postseason trip with the Vandals.

Idaho (17-14) posted a first-round win in the Big Sky tourney over Southern Utah, but fell in the second round to Eastern Washington 73-64. The Eagles made the WBI as well and travel to Texas State on Thursday. If both teams advance, they will face each other on Saturday or Sunday in the second round.

The Vandals are led by sophomore Mikayla Ferenz, averaging 18.0 points and 4.8 rebounds. Ferenz had a season-high 41 points against Northern Arizona on Jan. 21 and scored 25 points against SUU and 23 against Eastern in the conference tourney.

The team boasts two others averaging double digits: junior Geraldine McCorkell (13.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and sophomore Taylor Pierce (11.9 ppg), while Karlee Wilson leads the team in assists and steals in addition to chipping in 8.6 points.

Utah State (17-14) earned the sixth seed in the Mountain West and won its first-round game over 11th-seeded Air Force 46-40, then fell to No. 3 seed UNLV 68-43.

The teams played several common opponents this season with Idaho posting a 5-5 record and Utah State going 4-5. They play contrasting styles, as Idaho averages 72.0 points and Utah State 58.9, but the Aggies allow 59.5 points against while the Vandals give up 68.5.

Idaho likes to shoot the 3-ball, averaging 10.3 made 3-pointers while the Aggies will try to go inside as they average just 4.4 makes from beyond the arc.

Utah State guard Eliza West (7.6 ppg) led the team in assists and steals and was named the 2016-17 Mountain West freshman of the year, while sophomore guard Rachel Brewster (13.6 ppg) was honorable mention all-conference and forward Shannon Dufficy (8.1 ppg) was named to the all-freshman team with West.

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