Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Jordan Buscarini
The USU Eastern Lady Eagles ended Thanksgiving weekend with a two-game road trip to Salt Lake Community College, finishing 1-1 in a non-conference tournament.
The weekend started with the No. 14 ranked Lady Eagles meeting up with No. 22 Odessa College. Faced with a double-digit deficit at the end of the opening quarter, the Lady Eagles come-from-behind effort fell just short as the team suffered its first loss of the season, 70-65.
Ellie Esplin poured in a team-high 18 points on an efficient 7-11 shooting from the field in the loss. Hadley Humphries continued her streak of consistent play as she scored 11 points and gathered 10 rebounds. Summer Christensen also reached double-figures, finishing with 10 points.
Turnovers plagued the Lady Eagles in the first loss of the season as the team committed 19 for the game, which turned into 21 points for Odessa.
Friday’s setback did not linger into Saturday as the Lady Eagles answered the loss with a dominating 116-62 win over Eastern Wyoming College.
A high-scoring first quarter ended in USU Eastern’s favor as the team carried a 29-18 lead into the second quarter. The offensive explosion continued as the advantage grew to 52-32 at the break. The Lady Eagles continued to score at a rapid pace, posting 30 points in the third and 34 points in the final quarter.
Brinlee McRae hit four shots beyond the perimeter as she ended with a game-best 22 points to go along with five rebounds and two steals. Esplin once again scored 18 points, 12 of which came from beyond the three-point line, while also handing out six assists.
Every USU Eastern player who entered the game scored at least two points. The 116 team points are the most scored by the Lady Eagles since January of 2021 when the team beat Community Christian College 111-27.
Saturday’s win moves USU Eastern to 8-1 on the season. The loss to Odessa dropped the Lady Eagles two spots to No. 16 in the latest NJCAA rankings that were released Monday afternoon.