Vandals Hold On: Top Western Illinois 67-63 In Opener - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Vandals Hold On: Top Western Illinois 67-63 In Opener

Idaho held on late in the second half to top WIU. Idaho held on late in the second half to top WIU.

by Idaho University Media Relations 

MOSCOW, Idaho – Stephen Madison kicked off his senior season with a double-double en route to leading the University of Idaho to a 67-63 non-conference victory over Western Illinois before an enthusiastic crowd at Memorial Gym.

Madison was seven-of-11 from the field for 21 points and had 14 rebounds (one offensive and 13 defensive). Glen Dean added 15 points as the other double-figure scorer in the Vandals’ 2013-14 debut.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” coach Don Verlin said. “We fought like crazy. We kept fighting every possession.”

That tenacity enabled them to survive repeated surges by WIU in a game that featured 10 lead changes and necessitated strong free throw shooting by the Vandals in the final seconds.

“We didn’t get frustrated,” Verlin said. “Then we were able to make some plays down the stretch. We had a number of guys step up and play hard tonight.”

The Vandals, who never led by more than five in the first half, pulled away to a 10-point advantage five minutes into the second. But WIU kept coming back to set the stage for the final minutes of back-and-forth basketball.

After WIU took a three-point lead on two free throws by Garret Covington with 2:02 to play, the Vandals started their final comeback. Bira Seck scored on a layup with 1:52 to play to pull the Vandals to within 59-58 before Connor Hill returned the lead to the Vandals for good when he hit a 3 from long range on an inbounds play for a 61-59 Idaho lead.

Dean scored four of the Vandals next six points on free throws, while Madison hit the other two to clinch the game with four seconds to play.