May 17, 2022

Charlie Doodle

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Faltering in paint, Idaho’s men bow to Montana State | Sports

3 min read

MOSCOW — Even with senior Mikey Dixon going 13-for-13 at the foul line, that’s not where the Vandals wanted the game to be decided. It was anyway.

Facing an opponent with a distinct front-line advantage, Idaho committed 23 fouls and needed to play cautiously to keep that number from rising Thursday as it bowed to Montana State 92-72 in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game at a fan-free Idaho Central Credit Union Arena.

Dixon, the transfer guard who has moved to the forefront of the UI attack, responded to the Bobcats’ extended defense by driving hard, drawing fouls and scoring 24 points in Idaho’s first game in 18 days.

But that didn’t offset the foul trouble of Idaho freshmen Ethan Kilgore (fouled out), Yusef Salih, Tanner Christensen and others, or the absence of a few Vandals in the midst of coronavirus protocol issues that had forced the postponement of their two previous Big Sky games.

At least the contest happened this time, albeit without spectators, who were barred because of severe weather that had prompted the university to shut down classes earlier in the day.

The Vandals (3-9, 0-2) lacked the heft to contend with Montana State star forward Jubrile Belo, who had 15 points and three blocks, and eventually lacked the stamina to stop Xavier Bishop, who netted 20 points for a Bobcat team that shot 56 percent.

Also, the Vandals got only 14 points from their front line.

“We’re going to continue to try to get positive looks in the paint, as much as we can,” Idaho coach Zac Claus said. “It simply wasn’t an effective spot for us tonight, but we will not go away from it.”

Salih and Rashad Smith scored 11 points apiece for Idaho, whose 19-of-21 performance at the foul line went for naught in the face of 18 turnovers and some poor decisions.

“Unfortunately, we had some selfish plays offensively,” Claus said, “which is not going to lead to any success for us. Something we will continue to address and need to improve immediately.”

The Bobcats (10-5, 2-2), picked by coaches and media in the preseason to place third in the Big Sky, got 14 points from Amin Adamo and 10 each from Abdul Mohamed and Tyler Patterson.

“It was difficult — they’re a good team,” Claus said. “They are battle-tested. You can’t just fixate on one area. They are balanced, they have guys who are mature, they’ve got guys that have played together. If you are not locked in and playing smart and together, they’re going to expose you.”

The Vandals trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, cut the deficit to seven early in the second, then got blitzed 10-2 during the next three-plus minutes. The lack of a crowd blunted their attempts to mount sustained rallies.

Idaho will to try to shore up its varied problems before facing Eastern Washington at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in another Big Sky game in Cheney, Wash.

“Conference play waits for nobody,” Claus said. “We’ve got to bounce right back and ready to go come Saturday afternoon.”

Belo 7-12 1-1 15, Mohamed 4-9 1-2 10, Adamu 6-9 2-2 14, Bishop 6-9 6-7 20, Patterson 4-7 0-0 10, Battle 3-8 0-1 7, Osobor 2-3 4-6 8, Gazelas 1-3 1-1 4, Tynes 0-0 2-2 2, McMahon 1-1 0-0 2, Lecholat 0-0 0-0 0, Spears 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-61 17-22 92.

Christensen 1-5 0-0 2, Anderson 3-11 3-3 9, Dixon 5-9 13-13 24, Quinnett 1-2 0-0 3, Smith 5-9 0-2 11, Salih 4-11 0-0 11, King 1-1 3-3 5, Kilgore 3-3 0-0 7, McHugh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 19-21 72.

Halftime: Montana St., 45-36. 3-Point Goals: Montana St. 7-15 (Bishop 2-4, Patterson 2-4, Mohamed 1-1, Battle 1-3, Gazelas 1-3), Idaho 7-20 (Salih 3-7, Kilgore 1-1, Quinnett 1-2, Dixon 1-3, Smith 1-5, Anderson 0-2). Fouled Out: King, Kilgore. Rebounds: Montana St. 28 (Mohamed, Battle 5), Idaho 25 (Smith 7). Assists: Montana St. 13 (Bishop 5), Idaho 11 (Anderson 4). Total Fouls: Montana St. 17, Idaho 23. A: 50 (4,200).

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