The Kangaroos entered the WAC Tournament with their highest postseason seeding since 2006. (courtesy/WAC photos)

The Kangaroos entered the WAC Tournament with their highest postseason seeding since 2006. (courtesy/WAC photos)

The UMKC men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament on Thursday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV., falling to the Idaho Vandals, 83-80.  Kansas City finished its season with a better record than each of the last two seasons, and had its highest seed in the conference tournament since 2006.

“I’m really proud of how hard our seniors played today, and I want to thank them for their effort this year,” UMKC Head Coach Kareem Richardson said. “Anytime your opponent makes more free throws than you attempt, it is a big factor, and (Idaho) had a good plan today, so you have to give them a lot of credit.”

The opening period was what you would expect from the fourth and fifth seeds, with 10 lead changes and tight margins. The ‘Roos (10-20) largest lead was six, while the Vandals (15-17) led by four. UMKC took a 30-29 lead into the break, and did a solid defensive job on the Vandals, holding them to 35 percent shooting, while hitting 43 percent on the other end.

The game finished with 19 lead changes, but Idaho scored seven consecutive points to make it 56-50 over at one point in the second half. They would get their lead to as many as eight with 2:14 to play, but Kansas City closed it to one less than a minute later on a three in the corner by John Burke. The ‘Roos then got the ball back with 56 seconds on the clock, but Idaho drew a charge, followed by a layup on the other end by WAC leading scorer Stephen Madison to get it back to three. The ‘Roos missed their layup on the other end, and were forced to foul.

The Vandals hit both attempts to go up five with 10 seconds remaining, but Nelson Kirksey drilled a three with six seconds, and then UMKC put the Vandals on the line with three seconds. The second free throw attempt was missed, but Madison got the offensive rebound to seal the win.

Martez Harrison led the way for UMKC with 18 points and seven assists, while Kirksey tallied 15 points. Fred Chatmon had 12 points and seven boards in his final game as well. Madison had a monster game for the Vandals, tallying 26 points and 17 rebounds.

Story courtesy, UMKC Athletics