By Cory McKendrick, USU Eastern Sports Information Contributor
The Utah State University Eastern men’s basketball team opened Scenic West Athletic Conference play at the Eagle’s Nest at the Bunnell-Dmitrich Athletic Center on Thursday night. The Eagles played host to the Salt Lake Community College Bruins. In a back and forth game, USU Eastern came up short, falling to the Bruins 77-70.
Turnovers were once again the Achilles’ heel for the Eagles. USU Eastern had 24 turnovers in the game, which resulted in 25 points for SLCC. With minimal time remaining in the first half, the Eagles were up by 11 points. A late Eagle turnover resulted in a Bruin field goal, trimming the Eastern lead to nine going into the half. In the first half, the Eagles led in field goal percentage with 53.1% and an impressive 50% from three-point land.
Christian Haffner led the Eagles in scoring with 15. Gabriel Olivrira dominated the boards with 16 rebounds in the contest. Christian Popoola of SLCC led all scorers with 17. Salt Lake had a surge from the bench that gave a spark with 44 bench points. Down the stretch, free-throws were not uncommon by both teams. USU Eastern, unfortunately, missed out on some potential points by shooting 50% from the free-throw line. In a game that featured 14 lead changes and six ties, the Eagles couldn’t hang on down the stretch to finish the game.
The Eagles, who fall to 0-3 in conference, will be in action at home again on Saturday at the Eagle’s Nest at the BDAC. They will face off against Colorado Northwestern Community College. Game time will be 5 p.m. with broadcast links on the USU Eastern athletics website.