USU Eastern Press Release
Utah State Eastern men’s basketball defeated the Williston State Tetons 90-71 on Saturday in Twin Falls. After a tough double-digit loss to Indian Hills on Friday, the Eagles came out Saturday firing on all cylinders, taking control of the game from the very start.
“Because of strong second half we played against Indian Hills, I was confident that we could play that way against Williston State and we did it. We played solid on defense and offense, giving us the opportunity to have a great win,” said USU Eastern head coach Vando Becheli.
Sophomore Ognjen Pantovic had another big game for the Eagles, including a dominating first half where he put up 12 points and nine rebounds. The Eagles dominated in the paint in the first half as well by out rebounding the Tetons 24-15 and scoring 28 points down low.
Sophomore Chase Berry said that his team’s efforts on defense is what really set the tone in the first half.
“It started on defense. Everyone was in their right spots and we were able to get stops,” said Berry.
With a seven-point lead heading into the second half, the Eagles continued to play well, especially shooting from both the free throw line and the field. In the second half against Williston State, the Eagles shot 50% from the field and 80% from the free throw line.
One of the big reasons for the Eagles success in the second half was the play of Berry. He scored 17 of his 21 points and grabbed two rebounds with three assists.
“Chase did what he was suppose to do, which means, play good defense and attack the basket. Against Indian Hills, he put himself in early foul trouble and he couldn’t play that much but today he was ready to defend and he was aggressive,” said Becheli.
The Eagles didn’t let up toward the end of the game and led by as much as 21 points with under a minute left.
Saturday’s win over the Tetons snaps a two-game losing streak and puts the Eagles record at 12-6 heading into conference play. Pantovic finished the night with a team-high 24 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. His double-double on Saturday gives him six on the season so far.
“Oggie is huge for our team on offense and defense. It’s nice having a big that we can count on to go and make plays when we need it,” said Berry.
Freshman guard Blaze Nield also had a solid performance against the Tetons by putting up 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds. As a team, the Eagles finished the night shooting 48.6% from the field, 31.8% from three and 84.6% from the free throw line.
USU Eastern finishes its non-conference schedule 12-6 with all but four of those games being played on the road.
“I think that we are going in the right direction and we have a lot to improve. I believe after this first of half of the season, our players know each other and know what I want from them and I think that we will grow as a team when we start conference play,” said Becheli.
Up next for the Eagles is the conference opener against the Colorado Northwest Spartans on Saturday inside the BDAC. Tip off against the Spartans is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the game can be seen on the Scenic West Network and the NJCAATV App.