Vandals stumble against UC Irvine 67-59 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Vandals stumble against UC Irvine 67-59

Photo: Twitter/@VandalHoops Photo: Twitter/@VandalHoops

By Idaho Athletics

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho closed out the non-conference portion of the schedule on Thursday night, falling to UC Irvine, 67-59, at CenturyLink Arena in the Vandal Holiday Hoops Classic presented by Delta Dental.
It was a back-and-forth contest for most of the first half, but UC Irvine was able to put together a run late to take the 34-28 lead into the break.
The Vandals came out strong in the second half, scoring five straight to close the gap to just one point less than three minutes in.  After going shot-for-shot over the next long stretch, the Vandals were able to level the score at 38 midway through the frame, but couldn't get over the hump.  The deficit stayed fairly consistent over the next seven minutes, with Idaho staying within a bucket but just not managing to reclaim a lead.
UC Irvine was solid in the closing minutes, not allowing the more than 4,000 screaming Vandal fans effect the outcome.  The Anteaters closed the game hitting their final eight free throws, including six in the final 46 seconds, to claim the 67-59 win.
Idaho had a rough night shooting the ball, finishing at 36.1 percent from the floor (22-of-61) and 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from 3-point land.  Idaho was outrebounded for just the third time this season, losing the battle of the boards 42-39.
Victor Sanders led the way offensively, finishing with a team-high 17 points. Brayon Blake added 11, while Perrion Callandret finished with 10.
Brayon Blake.  Blake recorded his fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds.  He also added three assists, tying his career high.
Blake also brought the energy all night, igniting the crowd when the Vandals needed it the most.
Idaho finishes the early season at 8-4, tying for the most early season wins since Don Verlin took over.  Idaho also had eight early season wins in the 2015-16 season, when the team would go on to finish 21-13, the best record in more than two decades.
Blake recorded his fourth double-double of the season and fifth of his career.  It is the first time the Vandals have lost when he records a double-double.

The Vandals return to action on Friday, December 29, with Big Sky play kicking off at North Dakota.  Check back with next week for more information on the game.