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Bengals fall in first round of NCAA Women’s tournament


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Idaho State University guard Diaba Konate scores in the first quarter of the Bengals’ NCAA Tournament loss on Sunday, March 21, 2021. | Courtesy ISU women’s basketball Twitter

POCATELLO — A dream season came to an abrupt end for the Idaho State University women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon.

After clinching both the Big Sky regular season and conference tournament championships, the Bengals’ season concluded with a 71-63 loss at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats. ISU finished its season with a 22-4 record and the program’s fourth ever NCAA tournament bid — each of which ended in first-round defeat. It was also the program’s fourth conference championship.

The Bengals started Sunday’s game in much the same way as they finished their 84-49 Big Sky Tournament Championship romping of University of Idaho, with strong defense and a quick advantage.

Behind three steals and 10 points from sophomore guard Diaba Konate in the first quarter, the 13-seeded Bengals jumped out to an early 10-point advantage over the four-seeded Wildcats.

But behind 14 points from Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Rhyne Howard and stifling team defense, Kentucky stormed back to hand ISU it’s fourth first-round ousting.

Howard finished with nine rebounds, five assists and four steals to go with his team high in points. Konate finished with team best 16 points.