LAS VEGAS - Stephen Madison wasn't about to have his college career end with a collapse.
Madison's Idaho Vandals led Kansas City by eight points with 2:14 left Thursday in the WAC Tournament quarterfinals, but led by just one 51 seconds later. The Vandals' leading scorer spurred the team with his defense.
The senior forward drew a charge with 48 seconds to play, then hit a layup with 20.7 seconds to go on the other end, giving Idaho breathing room en route to a 73-70 win at the Orleans Arena.
"I was just trying to make the plays to help our team, do what I can do best, put the ball in the basket and back up my teammates on defense," Madison said.
Thursday's win was the first tournament victory for Idaho (15-17) and coach Don Verlin in his six seasons at the helm. The Vandals will face top-seeded Utah Valley at 7 p.m. MT Friday in the semifinals.
"That feels awful good," Verlin said. "We hadn't got one yet."
Verlin and Madison embraced soon after the win, a result of a long yearned-for win, and a reward for Madison's monster effort. The Vandals' third all-time leading scorer (1,582 points), he had 26 points and a career-high 17 rebounds Thursday, prompting Verlin to say Madison was the league's MVP.
"Stephen Madison proved tonight who he is and what he can do," Verlin said.
The Vandals hit 8-of-18 3-pointers, while the Kangaroos were 6-of-23.
The lead changed hands 19 times Thursday, and nearly did one more time with the Kansas City 7-0 run in the final minutes, but Madison's layup and senior Glen Dean's two free throws with 10 seconds left sealed it.
Dean had 14 points off the bench, while freshman Sekou Wiggs added a career-best 18 points, also off the bench.
Idaho has won five of its past six games, and have some momentum going into its matchup with the Wolverines, a team the Vandals lost to in both meetings this year by a combined six points.
"We didn't play very good early in the year, and the last five or six games we've really played well, and I couldn't be prouder of them," Verlin said.