CHENEY — When Mikayla Ferenz banked in the game-winning bucket Monday at Reese Court, Idaho’s record-breaking guard smacked her hands together in frustration.
She thought it didn’t count.
The final horn sounded just before Ferenz caught the ball on the left wing and fired the 3-pointer, evoking celebration on Eastern Washington’s bench.
A referee near Idaho’s bench even waved off the basket.
“I didn’t think I got it off,” said Ferenz, whose team trailed 74-72 when the clock hit zeroes. “I guess it didn’t feel like it, but you never know.
“Then the refs were talking about it for a while, so I thought maybe there was a chance.”
Vandals senior guard Ferenz is a Walla Walla High graduate who set Idaho’s all-time scoring record earlier this month.
After spending about seven minutes reviewing video of the game’s final 1.6 seconds — the remaining time Idaho had to score after inbounding the ball under EWU’s basket — officials ruled that the clock started too early, giving Idaho less time to get the shot off.
They ruled Ferenz’s shot counted, giving Idaho a 75-74 win in Cheney in front of a shell-shocked crowd of 1,600.
EWU head coach Wendy Schuller appeared to be in disbelief.
“I thought the call would stay in our favor because, timing-wise, it didn’t seem like enough time to get an inbound pass and then to catch it, turn and shoot, but it was,” Schuller said. “Idaho deserves a ton of credit, it was great execution and a great shot.”
Moments before the controversial finish, EWU freshman and former Sandpoint standout Grace Kirscher appeared to be the hero.
Kirscher, who had a team-high 19 points, scored inside with 1.6 seconds left, a possession set up by Violet Kapri Morrow’s steal.
After a timeout, Idaho guard Gina Marxen fired an inbounds pass about 60 feet to Lizzy Klinker, who immediately found a wide open Ferenz, Idaho’s all-time leading scorer.
“It was a roller coaster of emotion,” said Ferenz, who had a game-high 29 points.
“I never once thought (Ferenz’s shot) was going to count” Kirscher said.
EWU guard Uriah Howard’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds left tied the game at 72.
First-place Idaho (14-9, 11-4 Big Sky) defeated EWU (7-16, 6-8) 84-68 in Moscow last month.