Photo by Jeff Barrett
Twice in the second half, the USU Eastern Eagles pulled within six points of the No. 1 ranked Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) Bruins, but ultimately fell short of pulling off the upset in a 79-71 loss Tuesday evening at the BDAC in Price.
Trailing 50-34 at the end of the first half, the Eagles held the top ranked Bruins to just 29 second half points. Missed opportunities from the free throw line mixed with timely buckets from SLCC proved to be too much for the Eagles to overcome.
“My guys kept fighting and I’m really proud of that,” said head coach Bill Evans following the loss. “When you have a team that will keep fighting, you have a chance to win some games.”
Kevin Bethel delivered a complete performance for USU Eastern, despite the loss, as he poured in a game-high 17 points on 8-10 shooting. BJ Davis chipped in with 13 points off of the bench, while Payton Falslev scored 11 to help push the offense.
The Eagles shot an efficient 54.2% from the field, but struggled from beyond the arc as they ended 7-26. USU Eastern also struggled late at the charity stripe, finishing 8-16.
“If we make a couple free throws, it’s an even closer game and the closer the game gets, the harder it is for guys to make shots,” said Evans. “My guys missed some free throws and they rebounded the ball a little bit on us.”
Max Watson led the Bruins as he finished with 16 points, 12 of which came from beyond the three-point line. Doctor Bradley scored 11 points on a perfect 5-5 performance from the field, while Jaquan Scott scored 10 points in 17 minutes of action.
Tuesday’s home opener also served as the first of three meetings between USU Eastern and Salt Lake in conference play. The two teams will meet again on Jan. 22 in Salt Lake City.
The loss dips USU Eastern to 2-1 on the young season. The Eagles will have one day off before returning to the court on Thursday at home against Northland Pioneer College at 7 p.m. The week will come to an end on Saturday when the Eagles host No. 21 Western Wyoming at 3 p.m.