Photos by Jeff Barrett
By Jordan Buscarini
A furious second half comeback effort fell just short as the USU Eastern Eagles suffered a 74-72 loss to the No. 8 ranked College of Southern Idaho on Thursday night at the BDAC in Price.
Trailing 44-24 at the end of the first half, the Eagles outscored CSI 48-30 over the final 20 minutes. Down by as many as 24 in the first half, USU Eastern chopped the deficit down to two on two separate occasions, but could not take the lead.
“You have to give my guys a lot of credit,” said head coach Bill Evans following the loss. “I’m really proud of them. I’m going home understanding that our guys gave a great effort and never gave up. It’s easy to play up by 20 points and difficult to play down by 20 like we were.”
After shooting a sluggish 35% from the field in the first half, the Eagles rebounded by shooting 61% in the second. Capitalizing on opportunities inside the perimeter, USU Eastern converted 15-20 on two-point attempts.
Dontrell Hewlett led the way for the Eagles as he posted a game-high 20 points. Attacking the CSI zone, Hewlett did most of his damage in the paint where USU Eastern ended with a 36-12 advantage.
Peter Filipovity recorded the game’s lone double-double as he finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds off of the bench. Jesse White finished
with 13 points as he connected on 4-7 attempts. Donaval Avila also reached double figures with 10 points.
“At half time, I didn’t talk much about the defense because I thought we were out of sync offensively,” said Evans. “We are getting better, but we have to be more consistent. I’m confident that we will get there soon.”
Amoro Lado and KT Raimey paced the CSI offense as both finished with 18 points. Daylen Williams also went past the double-digit mark as he ended with 11.
CSI set the tone early as they shot 51% from the field, including 10 makes from deep, in the first half. The hot start offensively cooled in the second half as they shot just 42% from the field and knocked down four shots from beyond the arc.
Thursday’s loss ends a two-game winning streak and dips USU Eastern to 11-7 overall and 4-7 in conference play. With only four games remaining on the regular season slate, the Eagles will return to the court Saturday with a road trip to Las Vegas to meet Southern Nevada.
“They can score the basketball,” said Evans when asked about Saturday’s matchup. “Anytime you can score points the way they do, it makes you a very dangerous team.”