BOISE, Idaho -- Lizzy and Natalie Klinker learned plenty about basketball during their high school careers at Fairfield.
One of the biggest lessons taught by coach Dustin Gordon: Big players play big in big games.
It's safe to say the Klinker sisters have brought that mantra to the University of Idaho. The duo scored 25 of the Vandals' 30 second-half points in a 56-54 comeback win over Portland State in the quarterfinal round of the Big Sky Conference women's basketball tournament Tuesday at CenturyLink Arena.
"We really needed them both to do what they did today. I'm really, really, really proud of these guys," said Idaho coach Jon Newlee.
Trailing 36-28 midway through the third quarter, Lizzy Klinker went to work. She first scored on a difficult lay-up, then a mid-range jumper, another mid-range jumper and another contested lay-up to close out the third quarter. She added another two buckets to start the fourth. The 12-point spurt from the senior guard helped bring the Vandals back to even at 42-42 with 8:39 to play.
"My mid-range shot was there, and I just had to have confidence in it," Lizzy said. "Coach, from the beginning, said that's where it's going to be open, just had to keep cutting and find that sweet spot again."
Little sister took over from there. The bruising 6-foot-1 Natalie Klinker grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to get started, then added another offensive rebound and putback, this time drawing a foul and converting the and-1 opportunity. She got another bunny off an assist from Lizzy and then sank two free throws to give Idaho a 53-50 lead with 1:44 to play.
Natalie scored 13 second-half points on her way to a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end.
"Just boxing out on offense. I don't know, it's kind of like a competition thing for me. I really don't like missing the boards," Natalie said.
The second-seeded Vandals ultimately held on down the stretch for the 56-54 win to secure a spot in Wednesday's semifinal round. Lizzy finished with a game-high 19 points, 12 of which came after halftime. Idaho (21-9) will play Idaho State at approximately 8 p.m. Wednesday.
"At the beginning of the season, I don't know if everyone thought that we could get here," Lizzy said, "but, us as a team, we knew we could, so it's exciting to show people that we've worked so hard for this."