Longtime Vandal women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee is no stranger to big moments at Cowan Spectrum, and the 11th-year boss hit another big milestone Thursday.

Newlee earned his 200th win after Idaho’s 69-60 rivalry victory against Eastern Washington.

“It means I’ve had a lot of great coaches coaching with me, it means I’ve had a lot of great players play for me in my years at Idaho,” a humble Newlee said after the game.

Newlee gave a special thanks to longtime assistant and former player, Christa Stanford.

“Nothing gets done around here without her,” he said. “I’m really thankful she’s stuck with me all these years.”

Despite Eastern Washington’s 2-14 overall record (1-4 Big Sky), Newlee’s milestone victory was far from his easiest.

The Eagles twice rallied back from deficits of nine and 10 points, respectively, and tied the game at 55 on a trip to the free-throw line by Grace Kirscher, who made 1-of-2.

But Idaho sophomore Janie King hit a 3-pointer on the other end to kickstart a 14-0 Idaho run in the fourth quarter.

A Gina Marxen jumper gave Idaho a 69-55 lead — its largest of the game — with 36 seconds remaining.

“Coach just told us to buckle down on defense,” Marxen said of UI’s run. “So far this season, that’s been our strong suit.

“We let the second-quarter defense slip away and I think just at half that was a real big key for us.”

UI’s big fourth-quarter run proved to be the difference in a physical game  between the two schools just 70 miles apart. The Vandals improved to 9-5 and 4-1 in conference play.

“Like always with Eastern and Idaho, it’s scrappy, it’s a brawl and it’s getting after it,” Newlee said. “That’s the way this one should go.”

Idaho led 19-10 early, but EWU rallied to take a 28-24 lead in the second quarter. Idaho led 35-31 at halftime, and it was back-and-forth the rest of the way until UI’s run in the final seven minutes.

The Vandals dominated the boards with a 42-27 advantage in rebounds, but the Eagles kept it close with a 10-of-19 mark from outside.

Senior guard Lizzy Klinker led Idaho with a 14-point, 11-rebound effort. Sophomore point guard Gina Marxen added 12 points and five assists, and junior post Natalie Klinker tallied 10 rebounds and seven points.

King finished with 12 points, all on 3s.

“I thought Janie King made some big shots tonight,” Newlee said.

Eastern Washington — which averages only one player in double figures this season — put three players in double digits in this one, led Kennedy Dickie’s 18 points. Kirscher added 16 and Alexyss Newman had 13.

“It was a battle,” Newlee said. “I knew when we saw them warming up that they were at full strength. I knew we were going to be in for it.”

Newlee files

Since taking over at Idaho in 2008, Newlee’s teams have finished with 19 or more wins five times and competed in three NCAA tournaments.

Last season, Idaho won the Big Sky regular-season title and played in its second consecutive WNIT, where it advanced to the Sweet 16. The Vandals finished 22-12.

Remembering Isakson

Before the game, a moment of silence was held for longtime UI administrator Pete Isakson.

Isakson, 48, died Tuesday from a medical issue.

Isakson served as the interim athletic director from spring 2018 until this past summer and most recently served as the senior director of development for special projects in UI Advancement.

Isakson was known as a big supporter of the women’s basketball team.

Newlee was emotional when talking about Isakson after the game.

“He was our biggest backer here,” Newlee said. “He’d text me before every game when he was the AD, before he was the AD, after.

“He came on a trip with his daughter last year. He was a great man, he was a great father and I know I will miss him — every Vandal should miss him.”

EASTERN WASHINGTON (2-12, 1-4)

Dickie 7-14 1-2 18, Kirscher 5-9 2-3 16, Newman 5-9 1-2 13, DePriest 2-4 0-0 4, McDowell-White 1-7 0-0 34, Dick 2-5 0-0 4, Cravens 1-2 0-0 2, Francis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 4-7 60.

IDAHO (9-5, 4-1)

L. Klinker 4-9 3-3 14, Marxen 5-10 0-0 12, Bea 2-9 4-6 9, N. Klinker 3-5 1-2 7, Pulliam 1-4 0-0 3, King 4-11 0-0 12, Christopher 2-2 0-0 6, Hadden 3-7 0-0 6, Kirby 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 8-11 69.

EWU 10 21 20 9—60

Idaho 16 19 18 16—69

3-point goals — Eastern Washington 10-19 (Kirscher 4-4, Dickie 3-5, Newman 2-3, McDowell-White 1-4, Dick 0-3), Idaho 13-38 (King 4-11, L. Klinker 3-5, Christopher 2-2, Marxen 2-7, Bea 1-4, Pulliam 1-4, Hadden 0-1, Kirby 0-1, Jones 0-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Eastern Washington 21 (Newman 6), Idaho 42 (L. Klinker 11). Assists — Eastern Washington 11 (McDowell-White 6), Idaho 17 (Marxen 5). Total fouls — Eastern Washington 13, Idaho 10. A — 712.

MEN

Chance Garvin’s desperation, half-court heave was wide left at the buzzer, and the Idaho men’s basketball team was left with a familiar feeling Thursday at Cowan Spectrum.

Regional rival Eastern Washington beat the Vandals 78-75 in a nail-biter that dropped Idaho to 1-4 in Big Sky Conference play — with all four losses coming by three-or-fewer points.

Close losses have been a theme of the conference season for Idaho (5-11 overall).

“It’s already getting old, man,” said UI guard Trevon Allen, who tallied a game-high 23 points. “We’re right there. We know we’re right there.

“It’s something we need to work and find out what it is that’s causing us to be on the lower end of these close games. But we’re putting ourselves in the right position — just need to find a way to win.”

Allen surpassed the 1,000-point mark on his first bucket of the game in the first quarter. The Lapwai and Clarkston High School product is the 17th Vandal to reach the benchmark.

“Big milestone I was looking forward to,” Allen said. “It’s tough when it’s a loss.”

It was no surprise it was a close game between the Vandals and rival Eagles (10-6, 3-2). The last time the teams met at Cowan, Idaho won 74-71 in 2019.

The latest edition was similar, with the teams trading the lead 10 times and tying another 10.

Neither team could find space in the first half, with EWU leading 35-31 at halftime. The Eagles stretched their lead to 10 midway through the second half before Idaho rallied back.

Allen’s fast-break layup with 9:03 to go put the Vandals ahead 51-49 and capped a 12-0 Idaho run.

From there, the game was a clinic of clutch basketball. Six ties and three lead changes came in the final nine minutes of fast-paced, back-and-forth play.

A Damen Thacker 3 gave UI a 74-73 lead — its last of the game — only for EWU’s Jack Perry to answer with a triple on the other end with 16 seconds left.

The Vandals had two chances to extend the game late, but Thacker’s pass with 4.3 seconds left was stolen at midcourt and Garvin’s half-court shot would’ve been a miracle.

Idaho’s centers Scott Blakney (14 points) and Jack Wilson (10) joined Allen in double figures.

The Eagles were led by the trio of Kim Aiken Jr. with 18 points, Jacob Davison with 17 and Ellis Magnuson with 16.

“We tried like heck to fight and compete with them,” said UI interim coach Zac Claus, an EWU grad. “There was a reason that those guys were picked to win the league. They’re talented, they’re fun to watch and they’re going to be a handful for the rest of the season.”

E. WASHINGTON (10-6)

Aiken 6-13 1-2 18, Magnuson 4-8 5-5 16, Davison 6-13 3-4 17, Perry 3-4 0-0 7, Peatling 3-4 2-3 9, Rouse 2-6 1-5 5, T.Groves 2-2 2-2 6, J.Groves 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 14-21 78.

IDAHO (5-11)

Allen 8-19 4-4 23, Garvin 0-3 3-4 3, Thacker 3-5 0-0 7, Blakney 6-7 2-4 14, Dixon 2-4 0-0 4, Thiombane 1-3 1-2 3, Fraser 3-9 1-2 7, Forrest 2-3 0-0 4, Wilson 3-7 4-6 10, Christmas 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-61 15-22 75.

Halftime — E. Washington, 35-31. 3-point goals — E. Washington 12-28 (Aiken 5-11, Magnuson 3-6, Davison 2-5, Peatling 1-1, Perry 1-2, Rouse 0-1, J.Groves 0-2), Idaho 4-13 (Allen 3-5, Thacker 1-2, Christmas 0-1, Dixon 0-1, Fraser 0-2, Garvin 0-2). Fouled out — Blakney. Rebounds — E. Washington 29 (Aiken, T.Groves 8), Idaho 37 (Fraser 8). Assists — E. Washington 19 (Aiken 6), Idaho 15 (Fraser 4). Total fouls — E. Washington 19, Idaho 21. A—1,110.

Stephan Wiebe can be reached at swiebe@dnews.com, by phone at 208-883-4624 and on Twitter at @StephanSports.

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