Down 70-66 with under 30 seconds to play, USU Eastern’s Neveij Walters stepped behind the three point line and did what he had done only one other time this season; he made a three-point bucket.
Walters got the Golden Eagles within a point of sixth-ranked College of Southern Idaho 70-69, but Demetrus Richardson’s half-court shot went wide right at the buzzer and Eastern lost the hard-fought Scenic West Athletic Conference battle by the same score.
Walters scored 17 points and grabbed 16 boards and Dashaun Wiggins poured in 21 on 6-13 shooting.
Walter’s three pointer capped off a 7-3 run over the final minute of the game to give Eastern a shot at the end.
“That’s one of those things where you’ve got to hit the shot and you got to make some free throws for you to have a chance and they did,” Eastern Head Coach Brian Edelstein said. “We got a chance in the end. I mean it wasn’t a great chance at the end but it was a chance at least for the ball to go in and to win the game. That’s all you can really ask for.”
Chase Flint, the Golden Eagles’ starting point guard, was battling an illness all week and it showed by his game performance. The ever-constant Flint was held to just 6 points but grabbed seven rebounds and dished out 7 assists. Flint is seventh in overall conference scoring at 13.6 per game, and second in rebounding and assists with per game averages of 7.9 and 5.4, respectively.
Walters’ tip in at the first-half buzzer brought the Golden Eagles to within three of Southern Idaho 31-28. Walters finished the first half with seven points and six rebounds.
Because of NJCAA sanctions, Eastern will not be able to participate in next weekend’s conference tournament in Salt Lake City. The Golden Eagles vacated all wins from last season and this year’s as well. The Golden Eagles’ Maxim Zakharov played just two minutes in a professional game last summer in Europe so Eastern was forced to vacated all games in which Zakharov participated.
Though the season doesn’t count statistically, Edelstien had pride in the way his players play.
“Really proud of the team’s effort ya know,” he said. “They play so hard and it’s really aВ testamentВ to their heart and their character.”
The Golden Eagles host North Idaho Saturday to end the season. Eastern has posted an overall record of 16-12, with a disappointing 4-10 in conference play.