College of Idaho advances to the third round of the NAIA tournament by beating Xavier 76-61

Posted at 1:24 AM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 03:25:48-05

CALDWELL, Idaho — The College of Idaho has stacked up 32 wins in a row after their Wednesday night victory against Xavier University of Louisiana 76-61. Like many of their wins, it came on the back of their stout defense.

Two of the best defensive teams in the nation matched up as Xavier's pressure defense and the Yotes' zone have made it hard for a lot of teams to score. While Xavier forced the College of Idaho into nine turnovers in the first half, it was the Yotes' three-point shooting that built up their lead. The Yotes hit nine threes in the game, which is a stark contrast to the two they hit in Tuesday's game against Westcliff.

The change is something, Yotes guard, Drew Wyman predicted after Tuesday's game and it worked out for him.

“I just came out with confidence today to shoot the ball and my teammates got me open in positions to shoot so that helped a lot to just catch and put it up," Wyman said.

On the other end, the Yotes held Xavier to a poor 21.4% from behind the three-point line, making only three of their 14 attempts.

One key difference between the Yotes' second-round game and their first was their hot start. College of Idaho jumped out to a 10-4 lead early in the game which gave them a safety net for when Xavier made runs.

“This one it felt like we were just confident right from the start," said, Yotes guard, Jake O'Neil. "When we get out to those starts we can really control the pace of the game and that’s what you saw us do.” 

O'Neil had a notable game as he put up 21 points and 11 rebounds. While he's not always known for his shooting, he made three out of his four attempts from three which was huge for the Yotes' offense.

“That’s a bad dude man," head coach Colby Blaine said about O'Neil. "21 and 11 tonight of just pure strength and toughness. and you know what, he had some plays when they stripped the ball out of his hand, it’s something they do really well. and you’d never know those plays happen because he’s right back at it."

The Yotes will head to Kansas City this weekend to play in the round of 16 in the NAIA tournament. They will be matched up against LSU-Shreveport for Monday's game. Shreveport plays in the same conference as Xavier does and went 2-1 during the season. Their loss to Xavier came in the Red River Athletic Conference championship game. The teams will tip off at 2 pm MT.