Region 18: too tough or can’t finish

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Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 7:36pm

The USU Eastern Golden Eagles are right in the middle of their Region 18 schedule and just being a part of this particular region is difficult for many teams. At the time of production, Region 18 had one team in the top ten, the College of Southern Idaho ranked sixth in the top 10. Along with CSI two other teams have been receiving votes to make it into the top 20 poll, Salt Lake Community College and Snow College.

In Region 18, the Golden Eagles are second to last, with a region play record of 2-9 losing at home and on the road except to Colorado Northwestern Community College. CSI leads the region, followed by the SLCC in second, NIC third and Snow fourth, USU Eastern in fifth with CNCC bringing up the rear.

On Feb. 3, 2012, the Golden Eagles hosted the SLCC Bruins. The Eagles had just come off of a huge win after visiting CNCC and were hoping to carry that momentum on through to SLCC. The teams started out the game equally matched heading into halftime tied, 40-40. USU Eastern shot 43 percent from the field, hitting 14 for 32, and went 9-16 from the charity stripe.

Coming out in the second half, the Golden Eagles were charged up and ready to play. The team shot 51 percent from the field, but only went 9-19 from the free-throw line, which proved to be a problem.

In the end, the Bruins proved to be a bit too much for the team to handle, taking the win, 90-86. Head coach Brian Edelstein said, “There were a couple times where we could have stretched a play or get a bigger lead, but we couldn’t finish. We had momentum, we had them on the ropes, but we couldn’t make big shots or big stops to keep them out of it.”

The Golden Eagles had four players with scoring totals in double-digits. Demetrus Richardson led the team with 25 points. Dashaun Wiggins added 21 points and brought down 9 rebounds. Chase Flint had 10 points, brought down 9 rebounds and dished out 5 assists before fouling out. Edelstein added, “It was a good game for us across the board, just kind of the usual.”

The next day Feb. 4, the team hosted the Snow College Badgers. The last time USU Eastern played Snow, the Badgers took it to the Eagles and the team didn’t forget that.

The first half started out extremely slow for the Golden Eagles, as they found themselves looking at a 12-point deficit, 47-35. The team shot 33 percent in the first half, hitting 11 out of 33 shots. On the other hand, Snow hit 52 percent from the field, including going 8 for 15 from behind the 3-point arc.

The second half was much of the same, although more shots did fall for the Golden Eagles. USU Eastern went 14 for 30 in the second half, giving them a field-goal percentage of 46 percent. Snow College once again gave the Golden Eagles a loss when the final buzzer sounded, Snow College won 91 to 80.

Edelstein said, “You have to come to play. You cannot check into the game after 10 minutes and expect to win. If you do win, the other team really has to blow it for you to win if you do that.” The Eagles were led by Flint who had 18 points, 4 assists and 6 steals. Neveij Walters also had an impressive game with 13 points, leading the team in rebounds with 6 and had one block. “I really challenged [Chase] Flint to step up in the second half and he certainly did. I was also really impressed with [Neveij] Walters, he was banged up [injured elbow] but he fought through it and competed.”

Following the weekend of tough losses to Snow and SLCC, the Golden Eagles hopped on the bus and headed north to pay a visit to CSI and NIC. On Feb. 9, USU Eastern stopped in Twin Falls, Idaho, to play CSI.

The first half was a slow start for both teams as the team only hit 12 of 29 from the field while they held CSI to 12 of 36. The big difference in the first half was free throws. CSI hit 5-6 while USU Eastern went 1-6. Heading into the locker rooms CSI led 33-28.

Both teams came out in the second half revitalized and with determination. The Golden Eagles once again seemed to have a lid on the basket though as they only hit 13 out of 33 and their woes at the free-throw line continued, going 14-27. On the opposite side, CSI went 19-36 from the field and hit 11-18 from the charity stripe. CSI walked away with the win, 85 to 73. Edelstein said, “We need to play better. We are always right in it until the end. This time it was a bad call, but those happen. We left 18 points at the free-throw line, 15-33 that is terrible.”

Although undersized against the CSI bigs, Walters led the Golden Eagles with 21 points and brought down 5 rebounds. Wiggins added 19 points and 7 more boards. Flint also filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, leading the team in rebounds with 13 and dished out 5 assists. Edelstein said, “Flint was the man across the board and CSI had a tough time stopping Nev inside.”

Two days later, USU Eastern finished their northbound road trip when they visited the NIC Cardinals in Coeur d’Alene. The last time that USU Eastern and NIC played, it was a tight game until the end when NIC edged out the Golden Eagles in overtime by three.

Eastern started the game playing well on both ends, shooting 33 percent from the field while they held NIC to shooting 6-30 from the field. At the end of the half, Eastern had a 7 point lead with the scoreboard showing USU Eastern 25 NIC 18.

In the second half the Golden Eagles put their foot on the gas but got a little comfortable with a 14-point lead and eventually gave that up. Although USU Eastern had a better shooting percentage in the second half, they allowed NIC to close in fashion and force not only one, but three overtimes. The third overtime proved to be too much for the Golden Eagles and they dropped another game on the road, 81 to 78. “We held them to shooting 11 percent from beyond the arc, they went 5 for 42 in that area, but they hit big 3s when they needed to. On the other hand, we missed crucial shots and free throws with a chance to seal the game up,” commented Edelstein.

Wiggins led the team with 31 points, hitting 15 out of his 18 free throws. Flint added 17 more points along with 10 rebounds giving him another double-double but after close to 47 minutes of playing time he fouled out.

This weekend the Golden Eagles host the CNCC Spartans on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center. The final home games of the season are against CSI and NIC on March 2 and 3. There are only three weeks left in the season and this will be the third time facing each team.

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