Idaho men give Eastern Washington a battle

Idaho junior guard Rashad Smith, left, drives past Eastern Washington’s Linton Acliese during Saturday’s Big Sky Conference game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Smith finished with 17 points for the Vandals.

CHENEY, Wash. — The growth of the Idaho men’s basketball team continued Saturday. However, the results won’t show it on the win-loss ledger.

Eastern Washington hit four free throws in a stretch of 11 seconds late in the second half as the Eagles hung on for a 96-93 Big Sky Conference victory at Reese Court.

Steele Venters paced five Eastern Washington (9-7, 3-2) players in double figures with 25 points, adding eight rebounds. Angelo Allegri added 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Ethan Price chipped in 17 points. Rylan Bergersen finished with 13 points, and Linton Acliese had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Senior guard Mikey Dixon tallied 25 points to lead Idaho (3-10, 0-3). Junior guard Rashad Smith contributed 16 points. Freshman forward Tanner Christensen added 14 points and eight rebounds. Freshman guard Yusef Smith finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Jemeil King had 11 points.

The Vandals trimmed a seven-point deficit with 1:25 to go in the first half to 39-36 after King scored the final four points on a pair of baskets.

The Eagles were up by 13 with 9:27 left in regulation, and held a 85-75 edge at the 3:51 mark, but Idaho started to chip away at the advantage.

Dixon hit a pair of free throws and Smith had a layup with 2:54 left to trim the gap to six. After Venters made two free throws, Christensen finished a shot in the lane and Dixon canned two free throws that made it 89-85 with 1:22 remaining.

After Mason Landdeck hit a free throw with 41 seconds left, Christiensen converted a dunk that made it 90-87 with 34 seconds to go. Venters followed with two more free throws just eight seconds later, and Dixon finished a traditional three-point play with 17 seconds left that made it 92-90.

The Vandals were forced to foul, and Acliese and Allegri each made two free throws that sealed it.

“They had too many good looks from 3,” coach Zac Claus said. “We simply can’t give up 14 3s and expect to win a basketball game.”

The Vandals next play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Weber State.

IDAHO (3-10, 0-3)

Christensen 6-11 2-3 14, Anderson 3-14 0-0 8, Dixon 6-11 12-13 25, Quinnett 0-3 0-0 0, Smith 6-10 0-1 17, Salih 4-12 0-0 11, Pepple 2-2 0-0 4, King 4-6 2-2 11, Kilgore 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 32-71 16-19 93.

E. WASHINGTON (9-7, 3-2)

Acliese 4-8 4-4 13, Allegri 7-11 2-3 21, Price 6-8 2-3 17, Bergersen 3-8 7-7 13, Venters 8-16 4-4 25, Landdeck 2-4 3-4 7, Magnuson 0-0 0-2 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-55 22-27 96.

Halftime: E. Washington, 39-36. 3-Point Goals: Idaho 13-27 (Smith 5-7, Salih 3-7, Anderson 2-4, Kilgore 1-1, King 1-2, Dixon 1-3, Quinnett 0-3), E. Washington 14-27 (Allegri 5-8, Venters 5-10, Price 3-3, Acliese 1-2, Landdeck 0-1, Bergersen 0-3). Rebounds: Idaho 30 (Christensen 8), E. Washington 34 (Allegri 9). Assists: Idaho 17 (Quinnett 4), E. Washington 19 (Allegri, Bergersen 4). Total Fouls: Idaho 20, E. Washington 22. A: 1,351 (6,000).

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