A second-half shooting slump undid a strong start for Idaho State in Saturday’s 78-72 loss at Southern Utah.
The Bengals made one field goal over the final three minutes of the game. ISU shot 34.4 percent in the second half and 41.9 percent for the game despite making 15 of 30 shots before halftime.
Southern Utah (12-10, 7-6 Big Sky Conference) shot 50 percent in both halves and outscored the Bengals 9-2 over the final 2 minutes, 14 seconds of the game to flip a one-point ISU lead into a six-point Thunderbirds win.
“They were good shots, they just didn’t go in,” ISU coach Bill Evans said in a postgame radio interview.
Idaho State (9-13, 5-8 Big Sky) took its first lead of the game with 9:28 to play in the first half amid its second 7-0 run of the period. It marked one of 11 lead changes, and the game was tied nine times with neither team leading by more than seven points.
The Bengals grabbed their largest leads of the game at 49-44 and 53-48 early in the second half, after the score was tied 42-all at halftime. SUU marched on an 11-0 run to take the lead back, and ISU’s final advantage of the game, at the 2:34 mark, was erased by SUU’s aforementioned 9-2 spurt to close out the win.
Southern Utah is the sixth Big Sky team to shoot at least 50 percent against the Bengals this season. The T-Birds’ offensive consistency Saturday nullified ISU’s 11-for-11 effort at the free-throw line and 12-to-9 assist to turnover ratio.
The loss snaps ISU’s two-game winning streak and keeps the Bengals in a tie with Northern Arizona for seventh place in the league standings.
Brandon Boyd and Kelvin Jones scored 16 points apiece for Idaho State. Balint Mocsan added 13 points, but went 1 for 8 from 3-point range.
Mocsan tied a career high with seven treys in Thursday’s win at Northern Arizona.
“I’ll never tell Balint not to shoot the ball,” Evans said. “He’s done a really good job for us.”
Alonzo Walker added six points and a team-best seven rebounds off the bench.
Southern Utah was led by Andre Adams’ 16-point, 10-rebound double-double. Cameron Oluyitan had 14 points, while Dre Marin and Jacob Calloway added 13 points each.
Idaho State returns home to host Montana State on Thursday and Montana on Saturday. Both games are in Reed Gym, where the Bengals are 1-2 this season.
“I think our guys are playing pretty good,” Evans said. “I look forward to this week, getting our guys ready for two really good Big Sky opponents.”