By Jordan Buscarini
Second half shooting woes plagued the USU Eastern Lady Eagles as they suffered a season-ending 70-52 loss to the College of Southern Idaho in the semifinals of the Scenic West Athletic Conference Tournament Friday night at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
Holding a 32-27 lead at the end of the first half, the Lady Eagles converted just four field goals over the final two quarters. CSI worked in the opposite direction as they hit 10-12 attempts in the final quarter to pull away for the win.
“We started well and played well the first, second and most of the third,” said head coach Chelsey Warburton. “I think we played good for about 30 minutes. They got hot, hit a couple of key shots and we had great looks but couldn’t get them to fall.”
Kaija Glasker posted a team-best 12 points to lead the way for USU Eastern in the setback. Kinlee Toomer contributed 11 points to go with five rebounds and five assists. Kacelyn Toomer chipped in with eight points.
After shooting an efficient 47% from the field in the first half, the Lady Eagles shot 4-23 between the third and fourth quarters. Even with the struggles from the field, USU Eastern managed to take care of the basketball, committing just seven turnovers in the game.
“To us, all that matters is what we think as a team and I’m proud of them for what they accomplished as a team,” Warburton said during a post game interview. “This one hurts, but the girls played hard throughout.”
Kaitlin Burgess poured in a game-high 22 points to lead CSI past the semis and into the conference championship game. She did the majority of her damage beyond the three-point line, hitting on all four of her second half attempts.
Courtney Stothard helped push the CSI offense as she scored 16 points off the bench. Karmelah Dean ended with eight and Jordan Todd added seven points and seven rebounds.
Friday’s loss ends a season filled with more ups than downs for USU Eastern. Finishing third in the SWAC with a conference mark of 10-5, the team ended 16-8 overall for the season.
“We are extremely happy with the direction the program is going,” Warburton said of the future. “We are checking things off our list every year. If you take the whole season and look at it, it was a wonderful time with this group.”