Vandals Survive New Mexico State - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Vandals Survive New Mexico State

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Stacey Barr finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Idaho past the Aggies in New Mexico on Thursday night. Stacey Barr finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Idaho past the Aggies in New Mexico on Thursday night.

by Idaho Athletics Media Relations

LAS CRUCES, N.M—Starring down adversity for the second time in three games, the Idaho women’s basketball team extended its unbeaten streak to nine games on Thursday. Idaho trailed New Mexico State 31-26 at half, overcoming as much as a seven-point deficit on its way to a 75-66 victory.

Idaho (16-7, 9-0 WAC) started the second round of the Western Athletic Conference regular season with a 12-round bout against the Aggies. Both teams traded blows, going back and forth for a majority of the 40 minutes. A pair of Addie Schivo free throws gave the Vandals an 11-point lead with 7:30 to play, putting the game out of reach for the Aggies.

“They [New Mexico State] always play so tough here [Pan American Center],” head coach Jon Newlee said following the win. “We have had a lot of close games here, no matter which way the teams are headed in the conference. It is always a war. It is always a battle.”

For the fourth time this season, Idaho had to come from behind after trailing at the half. Only four Vandals recorded points in the opening 20 minutes of play. Junior Stacey Barr continued to pace the Vandals in the first half. Barr went into the locker room with a team-high 11 points. She and guard Connie Ballestro recorded 18 of the Vandals 26 first-half points.

Barr finished the game with her 13th career double-double. She matched her first half effort, finishing the night with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Ali Forde logged her fourth double-double of the season, contributing 10 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes on the floor.

New Mexico State (7-15, 4-5 WAC) took control of the first half off a three-point basket by Sasha Webber to take a 15-14 lead with 10:10 to play. The Aggies increased their lead to seven points with less than two minutes to play in the half. Danesia Williamson scored 17 of her career-high 33 points in the first 20 minutes, helping the Aggies sustain a five-point lead at the half.

Idaho did not retake the lead until the 15:10 mark of the second half off a Barr three pointer. NMSU’s Weber converted on an inside layup on the next Aggies possession to tie the game up at 39. A Williamson layup gave the Aggies a two point advantage with 14:32 to play.

NMSU opened the lead up to 46-42 with 12:54 on the clock, before Idaho could put together an 8-0 run, aided by five points from sophomore Christina Salvatore. Salvatore’s shot from beyond the arc boosted the Vandals to a 50-46 lead with 10:29 to play. Salvatore hit three long range baskets on the night, moving her into fifth all-time in school history with 144 career threes.

“I think there was so much emotion in the game [at Seattle U] that coming back out kind of took its toll,” Newlee added. “Once they realized that we were in a brawl and it was a fight, I was proud of how they responded to the adversity of the first half. I was happy with the production of the second half.”

Idaho had four players finish in double figures. Salvatore finished the game with 13 points and freshman Brooke Reilly added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.

“I really feel like Brooke saved us in the second half,” Newlee commented. “I thought she played a great basketball game, the best game she has played all year. She came in and hit the shots she needed to. She nailed a couple of big three’s. She played with confidence and finished inside. She was flying around.”

The Silver and Gold used a 15-of-31 (.484) second half-shooting performance to finish the night 35.4 percent from the field. The Vandals hit 11-of-28 (.393) shots from long range. Idaho’s bench outscored NMSU, 17-5.

Idaho will continue the road trip at Texas-Pan American on Saturday. First tip is set for 5 p.m. PT.

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