By Jordan Buscarini
Despite holding a five-point lead midway through the second half, the USU Eastern Eagles were unable to hold off a late run from the College of Southern Idaho in 69-55 loss Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the Scenic West Athletic Conference Tournament in Richfield.
Up 45-40 with 11:36 to play in the game, the Eagles were outscored 29-10 the rest of the way. USU Eastern had several opportunities to halt the CSI run, but the offense fell flat late.
“We missed the front end of a one-and-one, then we drove in transition and didn’t score, then missed a layup,” said Evans when asked about the flow of the game late. “That was our chance to put us up and extend the lead. Our guys tried hard and put up a great effort.”
Four USU Eastern players reached double-figures, including sophomore Donaval Avila, who ended with a team-high 13 points. Jesse White scored 12 and Peter Filipovity chipped in with 11. Kevin Bethel finished with 10, four of which came from the foul line.
The Eagles trailed 22-11 in the first half, but quickly chipped the deficit down to just three. Dillon Sorensen hit a 30-foot three-point shot as time expired at the end of the first half to give the team momentum heading into the break.
USU Eastern owned the next nine minutes, applying pressure to the conference outright champions. Playing to extend its season, CSI answered the call in a big way.
Marcellious Lockett and KT Raimey gave CSI a huge boost off the bench as they each scored 11 points. The second unit helped shift the momentum as the Golden Eagles pulled away for good.
“CSI played a great game and did a good job defensively, especially in the second half,” said Evans. “We didn’t do a bad job. The game was a lot closer than the final 14-point spread.”
Friday’s setback brings an end to a highly-entertaining season. Finishing with an overall record of 14-10, the marquee win came at home against nationally ranked Salt Lake Community College on Feb. 27.