Turnovers costly in Vandals loss to Montana

Turnovers costly in Vandals loss to Montana

MISSOULA, Mont. – Five Vandal players scored in double figures, Idaho shot a season-high 41 percent from the field and tied the program’s single-game 3-point record, but 20 turnovers were too much for the Idaho women’s basketball team to overcome in a 76-65 loss at Montana on Thursday night.

It was Idaho’s second loss to Montana this season, as the Vandals fell to the Griz 71-50 in Moscow on Nov. 18. Idaho drops to 1-5 on the season, while Montana improves to 4-2.

“Our effort was much better tonight than when we played them in Moscow,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “We came out with a lot of energy. Unfortunately we turned the ball over like crazy. Twenty turnovers is just hard to overcome. When they take 14 more shots than we take, that’s a killer.”

Idaho gave itself a chance in the game by connecting on 14 3-pointers, going 14-for-29 (48.3 percent) from long range. That total matched Idaho’s program record for 3-pointers made in a single game. The only other time the Vandals connected on as many 3-pointers was Dec. 8, 2005 against Utah Valley.

Montana out-scored Idaho 23-7 off turnovers and 38-8 in the paint and shot 43 percent (28-of-65) from the field to pick up the win. Idaho held a slim 37-36 rebounding advantage, and both teams scored six second-chance points.

Freshman Christina Salvatore scored a game-high 15 points off the bench for Idaho, going 5-for-11 from 3-point range, while fellow freshman Connie Ballestero scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Stacey Barr went 3-of-5 from long range and added 11 points, while juniors Alyssa Charlston and Addie Schivo added 10 points each. Charlston, who scored 29 points in Idaho’s wins over Eastern Washington earlier in the week, took just five shots against Montana on Thursday.

“I love to see that, our offense is an equal opportunity offense,” Newlee said of having five players score in double figures. “But, I will tell you, Alyssa needs to take more than five shots. The other night she had 18 attempts, and that’s where I’d like her to, somewhere between 15 and 20 attempts. We need to find ways to get her the ball more often with an opportunity to score.”

Freshman Ali Forde led the Vandals with six rebounds, and Charlston added five. Barr and Krissy Karr each had three assists for Idaho, and five players had a block.

Montana committed just seven turnovers in the game, and had 19 assists on its 28 made baskets. The Griz also got to the free-throw line 10 more times than Idaho, going 16-for-22 while the Vandals went 9-of-12 from the stripe.

Four Montana players, led by 15 points from Katie Baker, scored in double figures. Kellie Cole added 13 points, while Kenzie De Boer scored 11 and Jordan Sullivan chipped in with 10.

Idaho will return to action of Friday for its third game in four days when it closes out the Lady Griz Classic against Tennessee State at 6 p.m. (Pacific).

“Yeah, this will be our third game in four days, but I told them in the locker room, to win the WAC, you’ve got to win three games in three days, so this will be preparation for that,” Newlee said.