POCATELLO – Jared Stutzman dominated in Idaho State’s first win Friday night at Holt Arena, helping his new team to a 92-71 home victory over visiting Bethesda.
The sophomore, who transferred from Utah Valley was originally going to sit out the year because of NCAA rules, but was granted eligibility last week when his 700-plus page document was cleared by the NCAA, granting him a family medical hardship waiver.
“They’re really hard to get now,” Stutzman said. “The NCAA cracked down about two years ago on it because a lot of kids were transferring for reasons that weren’t as legitimate and trying to play right away. A lot of paper work, a lot of doctor’s notes.”
Stutzman scored a game-high 20 points on seven-of-10 shooting, scoring eight of ISU’s first 11 points, but head coach Bill Evans said Stutzman could have shot the ball more than he did.
“I think he passes up good shots,” Evans said. “I don’t think he should. I’m not saying that he should shoot the ball 30 times, but I think he can get in a few more than ten [shots.]”
By doubling Novak Topalovic in the post, something every team has done to ISU this season, the Bengals were able to kick the ball out to the perimeter for open looks.
Kyle Ingram and Topalovic combined for 13 points, seven of which were from the foul-line, on six shots. Geno Luzcando and Balint Mocsan, who both started at guard, along with Stutzman, who started at forward, shot the ball a combined 26 times for 52 points, 27 of which came from three-point range.
“Every day we spend ten to 12 minutes out of our practice schedule working on [Topalovic] getting doubled because anytime you throw the ball in the post, somebody is open,” Evans said.
Despite the lopsided win, Evans said the team had too many turnovers, didn’t play well on defense and didn’t make enough foul shots.
The Bengals (1-5) turned the ball over 20 times, something Evans referred to as “ridiculous” and Bethesda (3-7), shot 39 percent from the field and collected 25 points off turnovers.
ISU shot 58 percent from the free-throw line, a mark that was just four percentage points better than what the Bengals shot from the floor and from three-point range (54 percent).
“It wasn’t a team that put great pressure on you and made you turn the ball over, we just turned it over. … even though their stats don’t look really good, I didn’t think we were good defensively,” Evans said.
ISU’s largest lead of the night was 26, but with its back against the wall, Bethesda began to employ the full-court press and ISU went over six minutes without a field goal as the Flames cut the Bengals lead to eleven, forcing Evans to burn a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, ISU pushed the lead back out to 23 by going on a quick 9-0 run as Luzcando, who was a perfect six-for-six from the field, picked up six quick points and Mocsan sank a three to put the finishing touches on the blowout win.
Brandon Boyd missed Friday’s game with a sprained wrist, but Evans said Boyd should be back by Monday’s practice.