Vandals fall to Utah St. in shootout

Idaho women fall in NCAA opener

MOSCOW – Stacey Barr and Christina Salvatore helped the Vandals to a program-record 15 3-pointers, but the Idaho women’s basketball team couldn’t outscore Utah State in a 91-85 loss in the Cowan Spectrum Saturday.

Barr and Salvatore each tied their career-highs by draining six 3-pointers, the second-highest single-game total in Vandal history. Barr made five straight 3s and added an old fashioned 3-point-play to score 18 points during a 21-0 Idaho run early in the second half. She finished the game 6-of-10 from long range and matched her career-high with 23 points. Salvatore scored 18 points, two shy of her career-high, and added eight rebounds and four assists.

Connie Ballestero became the third Vandal in the last two games to record a double-double, as she finished with 10 points to go along with career-highs of 11 rebounds and six assists. Alyssa Charlston had 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Vandals, Addie Schivo had five points, and Ali Forde, Krissy Karr and Jessica Graham each finished with four points.

The Vandals (4-10, 1-2 Western Athletic Conference) hit 15-of-39 (38.5 percent) 3-pointers, breaking the previous school record of 14, first set in 2005, and matched earlier this season. Idaho shot 41.3 percent from the field overall but Utah State (6-9, 2-1 WAC) hit 47.7 percent of its shots, including 50 percent, 13-of-26, from 3-point range. The Vandals went 8-of-12 from the free-throw line, but two of those misses came on the front end of a 1-and-1in back-to-back possessions with Idaho trailing by seven with just over a minute to play.

The Vandals led by as many as 13 points in the first half, at 23-10 with 10 minutes left, but the Aggies went on a 13-2 run to make it close and eventually took a 42-40 lead into the break. After a 3-pointer from USU’s Makenlee Williams to give the Aggies a 45-40 lead to open the second half, the Vandals, led by Barr, went on their run. First a layup turned 3-point-play by Barr cut the lead to two, then Salvatore’s 3-pointer gave Idaho a 46-45 lead on the next possession. Barr then hit five consecutive 3-pointers to put Idaho ahead 61-45 with 15 minutes to play. The scoring barrage gave her 18 points in a five minute span.

“Our point guard was getting me the ball,” Barr said. “We were getting through their press, slash zone, whatever they were playing, and the shots dropped tonight.”

Idaho’s 21-0 run was immediately followed by a 23-7 run by Utah State that tied the game at 68-all with just less than eight minutes to play. The Vandals scored the next bucket to lead 70-68 but on the next possession Utah State’s Devyn Christensen hit a 3-pointer that gave the Aggies the lead for good. The Aggies grew their lead to as many as nine points in the final minute before winning 91-85.

“We went on our run and instead of putting our foot down and increasing our lead, we just didn’t play the best defense and let them back in it,” Barr said.

Christensen, the WAC Preseason Player of the Year, finished with 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting and added two rebounds and two assists. Williams added 21 points for the Aggies, and Jenna Johnson scored 19.

The Vandals had 20 turnovers in the game, compared to just 13 for Utah State, but Idaho outscored the Aggies 21-20 in points off turnovers. Idaho’s 48-36 advantage on the glass, and 20-9 lead in offensive rebounds, aided its slim 13-12 edge in second-chance points.

The Vandals hit the road for a pair of WAC games next week as they visit Denver on Jan. 10 and New Mexico State on Jan. 12. Idaho’s next home action is Jan. 17 when it hosts Louisiana Tech, and Jan. 19 when UT Arlington visits the Cowan Spectrum.