Idaho Vandals

Meet the highest scoring basketball player — male or female — in Vandal history

Idaho senior Mikayla Ferenz is averaging 21. 7 points per game this season, which ranks ninth in the nation.
Idaho senior Mikayla Ferenz is averaging 21. 7 points per game this season, which ranks ninth in the nation. University of Idaho

UPDATE: Senior guard Mikayla Ferenz scored 23 points in Idaho’s 76-68 victory over Montana on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, to become the highest scoring Vandal in program history — male or female.

Ferenz now has 2,148 career points, surpassing the previous program record of 2,140 established by Alli Nieman from 1996 to 2000. Orlando Lightfoot holds the men’s program record with 2,102 points from 1991 to 1994.

“It does get to be pressure when you get to that point. You want to just get it over with,” Idaho women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee said. “She looked smoother once she did get it done.”

Ferenz broke the record on a layup with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.

“I knew I had made it after I scored and I ran back and (teammate) Taylor (Pierce) was freaking out,” Ferenz said. “I was like ‘Oh, that must have been it.’”

Below is a story on Ferenz that ran in the Idaho Statesman earlier this season:

To get an idea of just how good Mikayla Ferenz is with a basketball in her hands, consider the company she keeps.

The University of Idaho’s 5-foot-10 senior guard is on a short list that includes 2018 NCAA Tournament MVP Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame, reigning ACC Player of the Year Asia Durr of Louisville and All-American Katie Lou Samuelson of UConn.

And what exactly do those four players have in common?

They are among just 12 active NCAA Division I women’s basketball players with 2,000 or more career points.

“It’s weird being compared to players like that, because they just seem like they’re on another level,” Ferenz said. “It’s crazy to think that I play at the same level as those amazing players. It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around it, but it’s really cool to have my name next to players like Asia Durr. That’s incredible.”

Ferenz set the Vandals’ single-season scoring record in 2017-18 with 742 points, and this season she is just 55 points away from breaking the program’s career scoring record. Going into the Vandals’ game Thursday at Northern Arizona, Ferenz has 2,086 points. Alli Nieman holds the school record with 2,140 points from 1996 to 2000.

“To score 2,000 points, it’s just amazing,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment wherever you are. That’s a lot of baskets you’ve made, and I’m just beyond words of how proud I am of Mikayla and her development. She earned it. She’s in that gym all the time taking extra shots.”

At 21.7 points per game, Ferenz has the ninth-best scoring average in the nation this season. She’s also started 88 consecutive games for the Vandals dating back to the final four games of her freshman year. Since she arrived on campus, there’s hardly been a time when the Walla Walla, Washington, native hasn’t been at the top of every team’s scouting report.

As a freshman, Ferenz was named the Big Sky Tournament MVP — totaling 67 points with a tournament-record 16 3-pointers — to lead the Vandals to the Big Sky title and an NCAA Tournament appearance. She has since been named to the All-Big Sky first team as a sophomore and junior, helping the Vandals make postseason appearances in the WBI and WNIT.

But Ferenz isn’t on the cusp of becoming the most prolific scorer in Vandal history without a little help.

Fellow senior guard Taylor Pierce has teamed up with Ferenz to form one of the NCAA’s most dangerous scoring duos. Nicknamed the “Splash Sisters” by Newlee, Pierce and Ferenz combined for 266 made 3-pointers last season. Pierce set the program’s single-season record with 137 triples (No. 2 in NCAA), and Ferenz had 129 (No. 4).

“They’re able to feed off each other and play off each other. There’s absolutely no jealousy,” Newlee said. “When one makes a three, the other one’s just as happy as if she made it herself. Their unselfishness in playing together has been their biggest strength.

“That’s really what’s made them so hard to guard is they will happily give up the ball to each other or their teammates if somebody has a better look.”

Newlee first spotted Ferenz while she was playing for her club team, the Northwest Blazers, in the ninth grade as their starting point guard. Newlee knew if he could sign Ferenz, he wanted to move her to shooting guard and continue to develop her scoring repertoire.

“She had a really good stroke as a young player and even deep range. That was really what caught my eye,” Newlee said.

While she arrived at Idaho as a strong catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter, Ferenz has evolved into a player who can take a defender off the dribble and finish at the rim. Her mid-range jumper is equally effective, and she plays with a pace that is hard to match.

“Mikayla’s a pure shooter,” said Boise State coach Gordy Presnell, whose Broncos beat Idaho 91-85 at the Beach Classic in November despite Ferenz’s game-high 30 points.

“... I had the opportunity to coach against Mikayla down in Long Beach. She’s a fantastic player and it seems like the rim is always really big for her.”

In addition to being one of the top scorers in the NCAA, Ferenz is an exceptional student. The actuarial science major — a discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk — maintains a 4.0 GPA and was a first team Academic All-American last season.

Before she moves on to a possible career in sports analytics, Ferenz has one more goal she’d like to accomplish as a basketball player.

“You want to play for a Big Sky championship. You want to make it to the NCAA Tournament,” Ferenz said. “I’ve played in all three postseason tournaments that there are, and (the NCAAs) are by far the best. It’s the best experience, so it’s definitely a goal this year.”

See Ferenz and the Vandals in Boise

The 2019 Big Sky men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be March 11-16 at CenturyLink Arena in Boise.

The women play March 11-13 with the championship on March 15. The men play March 13-16.

The top five men’s and women’s teams in the final Big Sky regular-season standings earn a bye to the quarterfinals. Single-game and tournament passes can be purchased at CenturyLinkArenaBoise.com.

Vandal golfer invited to Augusta National

Idaho senior Sophie Hausmann was among the 72 amateur players chosen to participate in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur taking place April 3-6 at Champions Retreat Golf Club and Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia.

Hausmann earned her spot in the field by virtue of her World Amateur Golf Ranking. The reigning Big Sky Player of the Year and two-time Big Sky individual champion is currently ranked No. 63.

”This is the first women’s amateur that will be played on the Augusta course,” Hausmann said. “That’s a really big deal and I am happy to be part of it. Long term, the goal is to play on the LPGA, so this is a good step toward it. It’s going in the right direction, but there is still a lot of improvement to make before then.”

Rachel Roberts has been covering sports for the Idaho Statesman since 2005. She attended Northwest Nazarene University and is Boise born and raised.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.

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