|Big-time 3's lift Vandals in OT|
MOSCOW - Idaho sophomore Alyssa Charlston buried maybe the biggest shot of her young career, a game-tying 3-pointer with 6.1 second left, and Keri Arendse hit another 3-pointer in overtime, the only field goal of the extra period, as the Idaho women's basketball extended its winning streak to three games with a 62-59 overtime win over New Mexico State on Thursday night.
New Mexico State's Kelsie Rozendaal, who had made just 2-of-3 3-point attempts on the season entering Thursday's game, broke a 55-55 tie and gave the Aggies (5-18, 2-6 Western Athletic Conference) their first lead of the night with a 3-pointer with 22 seconds to play. The Vandals (8-15, 3-5 WAC) called timeout and on the ensuing possession Idaho's Stacey Barr couldn't get a clean look at a game tying shot, but found an open Charlston in the corner, who knocked down the game-tying shot.
"I knew they would be all over Stacey so I figured if I picked and popped they would be late on me because they were worried about Stacey," Charlston said of the final play of regulation. "I have never made a shot like that except for eighth grade AAU, so it was pretty exciting."
Neither team shot well in the extra frame, as NMSU went 0-for-3 from the floor and Idaho went 1-for-6, but Idaho's lone field goal was a 3-pointer from Arendse with 1:35 left in overtime that proved to be the decisive score.
"I think both teams were real tentative in the overtime," Idaho coach Jon Newlee said after the game. "Nobody wanted to make the big mistake. We were a little tight. I told them when it started, five minutes in a game is a long time. It's not going to come down to one shot in overtime. We've just got to keep playing, get out in transition and run, it's just like starting the game all over again. They didn't listen to well to that, but we got it done anyway."
When it was all said and done, Charlston led all scorers with 17 points and added six rebounds and two blocks. Arendse finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, and Jessica Graham added 10 points and seven boards for the Vandals.
Idaho shot 40.4 percent from the field, knocking down 21-of-42 shots in the game. The Vandals also drained a season-best 47 percent from long-range, going 8-of-17 from deep. Arendse, Charlston and Barr each knocked down a pair of 3's.
Idaho's lead fluctuated between eight and 12 points for the first eight minutes of the second half, but the Aggies made their run and pulled within one at 52-51 at the six-minute mark. Idaho built its lead back up to four at 55-51 with less than five minutes left, but New Mexico State scored the next seven points, capped by Rozendaal's 3 that gave the Aggies their first lead of the night.
The injury-ridden Aggies brought just nine players on the trip, and after starting guard Erica Sanchez was hit with a technical foul in the final minute of the first half, NMSU coach Mark Trakh kept Sanchez on the bench for the remainder of the game.
"It's a physical game but a clean game," Newlee said. "My hat's off to New Mexico State to be honest with you. (Kaitlyn) Soto wasn't here, a couple of their players were kept home, so sometimes when you're short-handed you battle harder, and I thought they did a great job of battling and Mark did a great job of coaching them up."
Idaho held a slim 35-34 edge on the glass, and outscored the Aggies 17-8 in second-chance points, despite giving up a 14-10 advantage to NMSU on the offensive boards. The Vandals finished with 15 turnovers in the game, while the Aggies had 14, resulting in a 15-13 advantage for the Aggies in points off turnovers.
Idaho has now won three straight games to get itself back into the thick of the WAC race. The last time Idaho won three games in a row was November of 2010, when the Vandals started the season 3-0. But are looking for even more when conference play resumes on Saturday with Louisiana Tech Visiting the Cowan Spectrum.
"I feel like we can keep it rolling," Newlee said. "We have a tough team coming in on Saturday, every team is tough in the WAC. They're starting to understand that if they play with that energy and that heart and that drive and that emotion then good things can happen, and they got to keep battling."
Louisiana Tech is the only team in the WAC that the Vandals have never beaten, but Idaho will look to change that on Saturday. That game tips off at 5:30 p.m. and is the first half of a doubleheader with the Vandal men's team. The men tip off at 8 p.m. against LA Tech as well.