Idaho Stampede 123, Reno Bighorns 104
I'd really like to see the Bighorns play a team other than Idaho in order to get a better gauge on where they are, but I don't think they're all that bad. They have a nice balanced core of players. However, it appears that they just don't match up well with the Stampede, and/or don't play particularly well when trying to run. Rod Benson is fine at it, with 28 points on 11-17 shooting, 12 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and three steals. Marcus Hubbard also continues to play very well this season, shooting 7-12, and even though one of them was a three, he made it. Only four rebounds and three turnovers in 37 minutes, but the scoring efficiency is nice. Russell Robinson played fairly well, with 21 points and five assists, though he also picked up five fouls along the way. Desmon Farmer did some good things (a team-high seven assists, eight rebounds, three steals) and some terrible things. Some terrible, terrible things. Like nine turnovers terrible.
And let's talk about those turnovers, because collectively (Reno had 27) that's really what killed the Bighorns' chances. They were in this game at halftime, down 65-60 (though 40 of their points came in the first quarter), then decided to open the third quarter with the following sequence:
- A Robinson turnover off of a bad pass
- A Mo Charlo turnover off of a steal by Mildon Ambres
- Robinson getting a layup blocked by Brian Laing
Have I whetted your appetite? Would you like to see more? Because four minutes later this happened:
- Traveling called on Farmer
- Benson missed a jump shot
- Hubbard missed a pair of free throws
- Robinson made a layup!
- Another Farmer turnover
- Robinson missed a jump shot
- Majic Dorsey turnover off a steal by Emmanuel Jones
- Charlo missed a jump shot
- Farmer offensive foul
I think you get the idea. Which is not to say that Idaho only had to sit back and watch and didn't play well, because they did, but that third quarter turned this game from a close one to, well, not close at all. The Stampede were led by Anthony Tolliver, who is bearing out my prediction that that trade would be a great one for Idaho and who made six of his nine three-pointers on the way to 30 points and 11 rebounds. There was also some excellent point guard play, with Lanny Smith coming through with 12 assists and Sundiata Gaines getting 21 points, eight assists and five steals. Not everyone had a great shooting night (Mildon Ambres came back to earth a little bit after an excellent first game, Jones needed 12 to score 10), but everyone on the roster contributed in other ways through rebounding, steals or assists. This here is a talented team (analysis).