Photo by Jeff Barrett
By Jordan Buscarini
The USU Eastern Lady Eagles opened a four-game road trip as they traveled to Idaho for two games in three days.
Starting the trek against the No. 22 ranked College of Southern Idaho (CSI), the Lady Eagles suffered their first conference loss of the season, 78-71, in overtime. The team returned to the floor Saturday with a dominating 81-55 win over North Idaho College.
“We are pretty happy with the split, but we did have an opportunity to go 2-0,” said head coach Chelsey Warburton. “For that long of a trip and being able to come back with one win, we’ll take it. Now we get to reset at look at making adjustments moving forward.”
Trailing by as many 16 points in the first half, the Lady Eagles managed to rally to capture a four-point lead over CSI late in the fourth quarter. Southern Idaho responded by scoring the final four points of regulation, sending the game into overtime.
Southern Idaho gathered momentum and went on to outscore the Lady Eagles 18-11 in the extra quarter. The setback ended a nine-game winning streak that dated back to Nov. 25.
Hadley Humpherys led the way in the loss as she finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Japrix Weaver also finished in double-figures as she notched 10 points. USU Eastern’s bench was held to just 21 points.
After taking Friday off, the Lady Eagles returned to the court with a lengthy drive to Coeur d’Alene to face North Idaho. The Lady Eagles responded to the loss with a powerful first half, outscoring North Idaho 39-19 heading into the break. The lead continued to grow as USU Eastern won each of the four individual quarters.
Ellie Esplin shot an efficient 7-11 from the field, leading the way with 15 points. Annie Stinar helped the second unit as she poured in 14 points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. Humpherys and Weaver both finished with 10.
North Idaho had trouble slowing USU Eastern’s offensive tempo throughout the game as the Lady Eagles shot 54% from the field.
The 1-1 road trip did affect USU Eastern in the latest NJCAA rankings. Entering ranked No. 16 in the country, the team slipped to No. 19. Despite the drop, USU Eastern remains the highest ranked team in the Scenic West Athletic Conference.
The four-game road trip will continue this Wednesday as the Lady Eagles travel to meet Salt Lake Community College. The final game of the road swing will come Saturday against Snow College.
“Every game is important for different reasons. Every game is tough for different reasons,” said Warburton. “Getting back home and getting ready to figure out what we are doing is important. We’ll put together a scout, head to Salt Lake and try to get a win.”