These aren't the Idaho State Bengals of last season. Last year, it took the Bengals until January to score at least 60 points against a Division I opponent. On Monday night, they broke the 90 point mark - with a 93-90 OT victory over San Francisco.
In the process, the Bengals got career high totals from Chris Hansen (33 points) and Tomas Sanchez (24 points), while Andre Hatchett (20) tied a career high. Hansen was 5/11 from downtown, while Sanchez and Hatchett combined to make 21 free throws. It was the best offensive effort we've seen from ISU in a long while.
As well as they played, it almost ended in a disappointing manner. With the score tied at 90 with 24.5 seconds left, the Bengals had the ball with the chance to take the final shot. Sanchez was handling the ball up top, but seemed to panic a little bit when he got closer to a five second call. He fired a shot early, and then committed a foul on the putback, sending the Dons to the line. However, USF missed the front end, and Ayikaburo Preh swatted their putback attempt. Sanchez got the ball, and amazingly he got fouled with 2.2 seconds left. He calmly knocked down both freebies, and USF was unable to score. It was a big Bengals win.
ISU played lots of zone defense, as you can probably tell by the fact that the Dons fired 46 threes (making 17 of them). Often, it looked like USF was content to simply pass the ball around the perimeter and take a three. They hit a lot of them and got a lot of good looks, but they did ISU a favor by not trying to penetrate the zone.
By every measure, the Dons were favored to win this game. At times in OT, it looked like they had it under control. But ISU kept at it, and kept attacking. They were the aggressor, and it showed, as they took 35 FT attempts to 12 for USF. They got rewarded with a great road victory over a solid WCC team. It's the biggest sign yet that Bill Evans is on the verge of doing nice things with this program.
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