Vandals defeat Wildcats; clinch share of Big Sky title

Vandals defeat Wildcats; clinch share of Big Sky title

Idaho used a late rally in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good in an 86-78 triumph over Weber State and claimed at least a share of the Big Sky Conference regular season title on Thursday inside Cowan Spectrum.

The hard-fought win moves Idaho’s overall record to 19-9, 16-3 in the Big Sky, as the Vandals’ streak improves to six games. The Wildcats drop to 5-24, 2-17 in the league, with the loss.

Before tip, Mikayla Ferenz received her second commemorative ball for breaking another record, this time for becoming the Big Sky Conference all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball.

Idaho’s prolific duo, Ferenz and Taylor Pierce , started the game in a shooting slump but managed to bank in 24 points each in the win. Gina Marxen and Isabelle Hadden both added ten, while Lizzy Klinker and freshman Hailey Christopher collected eight points.

Idaho closes the regular season at home Saturday afternoon against Idaho State in the ICCU Battle of the Domes series at 2 p.m. at Cowan Spectrum. Seniors Mikayla Ferenz and Taylor Pierce will be honored pre-game in their final regular-season home game as Vandals.

In front of a big home crowd, Idaho trailed 23-16 after the first quarter, and could not seem to find their bearings as the Wildcats match every effort the Vandals gave to cut the deficit. Idaho closed the first half in a nine-point whole, 43-34, after Weber State’s Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman, who scored 37 points on the game, sank a jumper at the elbow to end the second quarter.

After a slow first half, Idaho flipped the script on the Wildcats and dominated the second half. The Vandals came out hot shooting 12-of-16 from the floor and 4-of-7 from behind the arc. Outscoring the Wildcats, 32-12, Idaho slowly chipped away at a Weber State 10-point lead. Christopher hit a jumper on the baseline to put the Vandals within one-point at the 1:10 mark in the third quarter. It was the very next play that gave the Vandals its first lead since the opening minutes of the first quarter as Ferenz connects on a fastbreak three-pointer.

Idaho entered the final quarter with its first lead of the half, 66-64. The Splash Sisters took over giving the Vandals a five-point lead that was cut down to one-point, 71-70. The lead tied twice before Idaho regained the lead for good after Christopher hits another baseline jumper. Pierce connected on a triple to increase the lead to five points with 1:10 left in regulation. Idaho held on for the next minute to clinch its second Big Sky Conference regular-season title, third overall, 86-78.