Some oddities from Idaho, where UC Irvine lost its 14 consecutive road game. It was an unusual day--before, during and after Idaho defeated the Anteaters, 57-40, in front of 4,038 in the Kibbie Dome Saturday night.
For starters, Joe Cravens, Irvine assistant and former Idaho head coach, was a one-day media celebrity. His claim to fame? He was back in Moscow less than a year after being fired. He also had a small rooting section during the game.
The Anteaters (1-16, 1-7 in the Big West Conference) had to practice a little duck and cover during their morning practice in the multipurpose Kibbie Dome. A track and field meet was in progress, and players were informed that discuses tend to land on the basketball court. One did a few minutes later.
Robert Scott, an Idaho football player who wasn’t even on the basketball team until mid-January, outscored Irvine’s Lamarr Parker and outrebounded Paul Foster. Parker and Foster are the Anteaters’ season leaders in those categories.
No one but freshmen scored for Irvine until junior Wendell Robinson connected on a short jumper with 9 minutes 18 seconds left in the game.
And Irvine Coach Rod Baker ended it with an early congratulatory handshake, after he started walking toward Idaho Coach Kermit Davis with 20 seconds left.
“I’m sorry, we’re not very dazzling tonight,” Baker said in his postgame interview.
Who could stand much more excitement?
It did break up the monotony of another loss, one in which the Anteaters had their lowest point total since Feb. 11, 1985, when they lost to Fresno State, 52-40.
Still, Irvine has been building to this moment. It was the fifth time this season the Anteaters have scored fewer than 50 points.
“In a game where both teams are struggling to score, you’ve got to get shots up,” Baker said. “Twenty-two times we came down and didn’t get shots up for whatever reason.”
The reason was simple, and apparently habitual. The Anteaters turned the ball over 22 times. It was nowhere near their season high (30, twice) but fairly close to their average (21).
Parker had turnovers on three consecutive possessions to start the second half. Idaho went on a 7-0 run to take a 31-20 lead.
The Anteaters shot 50% in the first half but had only 18 shots. They finished with 35 shots, 20 fewer than Idaho (10-11, 3-5).
When the Anteaters did get a shot, they rarely got a second. Idaho had 16 offensive rebounds to Irvine’s four.
Scott, a 6-1 sophomore wide receiver, had three offensive rebounds, which he turned into baskets. He had an assist to start the second half, then scored back-to-back baskets a few minutes later to shake up the sluggish Vandals.
“Every time Robert came into the game, he changed the tempo,” Davis said.
Jason Jackman, the Vandals’ top player, had 17 points, scoring nine of Idaho’s 15 points during a six-minute stretch.
Scott finished with seven points, six rebounds and three assists.
“I’ve had to learn things fast, and there are times when I’m out there that I don’t know what we’re running,” Scott said.
Irvine did know what it was running, in theory anyway.
“You can’t just play well defensively then not play well offensively,” Baker said.