When you host the East Region’s No. 1 team, chances are it’s not going to be pretty.
Saturday’s Northwest Athletic Conference matchup saw Blue Mountain fall 137-69 at home to North Idaho.
“Just look at their roster,” Timberwolves head coach Doug Baxter said. “They have about eight Division 1-talented players. They shot 60-89 from the field. There’s NBA teams who can win doing that.”
Blue Mountain’s Mehki Foreman was the court’s hottest player with a game-high 23 points, but North Idaho had a more varied set of strong shooters at their disposal.
Alphonso Anderson had 22 points to lead the Cardinals, Jarod Greene had 20, Emmitt Taylor 17, and James Carlson 16.
“When you play against this level of talent, you’re going to struggle to do what you want to do,” Baxter said. “We played as well as we could, but we just got killed on the glass and gave them too many second chance points.”
Blue Mountain trailed by just four points twice in the first half before the game slipped out of their grasp. A 3-point jumper from the Cardinals’ Iaian McLaughlin sparked a 12-point run that left the Timberwolves unable to catch up.
North Idaho also recorded an 11-point run with 10:06 left in the first half that made things even harder on the Timberwolves. When the first buzzer signaled the intermission, the Cardinals had nearly tripled Blue Mountain’s points, 60-23.
Their advantage only widened in the second half. With 13:42 left to play, the Cardinals’ James Carlson made a layup that gave them a 51-point advantage and forced a Timberwolves timeout.
Jaden Dewar hit a bucket that gave the Cardinals a 53-point lead with 8:09 to go.
Bryson Wolters knocked a shot down from the outside for the Timberwolves with 0:40 left, but a comeback was long out of the question.
“We played as well as we could,” Baxter said. “I told the kids North Idaho could compete for a national title. I’m proud of the effort we put in today.”
Blue Mountain (4-12, 2-3 NWAC) travels to the East Region’s No. 4 contender Walla Walla on Wednesday.
The Timberwolves suffered their 11th straight loss after falling at home to North Idaho on Saturday, 71-49.
“We played really well in that first half,” said Blue Mountain head coach Adam Driver. “But then that third quarter hit and we folded under the pressure. It really made a difference.”
It was anyone’s game in the the first half, with Blue Mountain tying the score at 8-8 with 5:59 left in the first quarter, and even taking a brief lead in the second, 20-17. But a 10-point Cardinals run in the third quarter left the Timberwolves down for the count.
North Idaho would put the quarter away 21-8, and despite the Timberwolves keeping pace in the fourth, the Cardinals escaped with the win.
“(North Idaho) came out and pressed us in the third,” said Driver. “We had 4 or 5 straight turnovers. We just didn’t handle their pressure.”
Blue Mountain’s Ammarae Broncheau ended with a team-high nine points and shot 2 for 2 at the line, and Karlie Gerlinger added eight points.
Brooke Wheeler sunk two back-to-back buckets to give the Timberwolves their sole advantage. But they were no match for the sharpshooters on the Cardinals’ roster.
Alex Carlton proved the biggest threat, knocking down 7 of her 11 shots from the outside. Her trey in the early second quarter broke the Cardinals out of the 20-20 tie for their final lead.
By the end of the game, she had poured in a game-high 23 points.
“Carlton shot really well,” said Driver. “And for some reason, we just couldn’t find her. She got some wide open 3s.”
Blue Mountain (2-13, 0-5 NWAC) remains at the bottom of the East Region standings. They’ll stay at home for a Monday conference game against Spokane (3-3, 13-4).