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STORY BY STEVE SCHAACK-ISU SPORTS INFORMATION
POCATELLO, Idaho- The Idaho State men's basketball team had four players score in double figures, led by Chris Hansen's 19 points but it wasn't enough as the Idaho Vandals beat the Bengals 75-69 on Saturday afternoon at Reed Gym in front of a crowd of 1,795.
Tomas Sanchez scored 18 points, Andre Hatchett 13 and Melvin Morgan had 11. Idaho State shot 47.8 percent from the field and held the Vandals to 38.7 percent but the Bengals were out rebounded 45-23 and Idaho State was 18-28 from the free throw line while Idaho was 17-18.
“I am not feeling great about this one,” Idaho State coach Bill Evans said. “We were 18-28 from the foul line and they get 21 offensive rebounds. That was the difference in the game today.”
Hatchett led the Bengals with six rebounds and Sanchez had seven assists to only one turnover. Idaho also had four players in double figures led by Connor Hill's 20 points. Hill made six 3-pointers.
“He made shots and he needs to be commended for that,” Evans said on Hill. “We didn't do as good of a job getting to him. You have to give him credit for making shots.”
Overall Evans said he was pleased with his team's performance on the defensive end, “I think defensively we were fine. They shot 30's and 32 percent from the 3-point line. That is good enough to win. Holding them to 38 percent is good enough to win.”
The Bengals got off to a slow start and fell behind 20-11 10 minutes into the game. Later in the half, ISU trailed 28-21 when center Jakub Kusmieruk entered the game. Kusmieruk played the final four minutes and sparked the Bengals to a 29-28 halftime lead.
“He played really good,” Evans said. “I was pleased with his play.”
Idaho jumped out to a strong start in the second half and built a 49-41 lead, seven minutes into the final period. The Bengals got back in the game and got within two points at 54-52 with 8:48 to play in the game after a layup by Kusmieruk. ISU would get within one point at 61-60 with 4:31 to play on a Hatchett free throw and 63-62 with 2:51 to play thanks two Hansen free throws.
Idaho then scored seven straight points to extend the lead to 70-62 and ISU got no closer than the final score the rest of the way.
Idaho State returns to conference play next week for games at Northern Arizona (Feb. 28) and Sacramento State (March 2). The NAU game tips off at 6:35 p.m. and the contest at Sacramento State starts at 8 p.m.