Final loss eliminates CEU men from national tournament play
One and your done applies not only to national tournament play, but also to conference tournament time at the junior college level.
A couple of points here, an officiating call there and the College of Eastern Utah Golden Eagles may have started the Scenic West Athletic Conference tournament with a much higher seed. But the team ended the season strong and did not let the fourth seed draw get in their way.
During tournament play last week they first took out number three Snow 78-62. With that they earned themselves a shot at the number one seed and they didn't blink. They eliminated NIC 80-67 to earn a shot at the SWAC Championship and a shot at the national tournament as well.
But Salt Lake Community College was looking for the same thing and a bit of revenge for their recent losses to the Eagles. In the end ,it was SLCC that took home the trophy, 88-78, and also gets a shot at a national tournament berth.
The Thursday match-up with Snow was between two very physical teams. CEU held the edge with three straight wins over the Badgers, but the wins had all been closely contested duels. The game started off slowly as the two heavyweights felt each other out.
After a couple of scoring runs from each team, a three point half time edge was held by CEU. The Eagles shot 13/24 from the field 54.2 percent but were zero for three from beyond the arc.
The second half had CEU starting off on a 6-0 run . Then Stephen Franklin and Aaron England picked up quick fouls and had to sit out. The Golden Eagles went up by 20 points before Snow chipped away at the lead and reduced it to 14. CEU coach Chris Craig gave all his players a chance for post season play as CEU cruised to the first round win.
Phillip Thomas scored 17 points to lead the team, followed by Stephen Franklin's 15 points and Cliff Colimon's 12 points. Franklin also pulled in eight rebounds.
On Friday night CEU got to do battle with North Idaho College.The winner would get to take on SLCC in the championship game after SLCC defeated CSI to earn that right.
Even though NIC had swept all three games against the Eagles, the final two games had been decided by a bucket. CEU thought that both games should have been theirs and they were out to make amends.
And make amends they did, CEU shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and finished the game shooting 44 percent. An amazing six players scored in double figures as the Golden Eagles used a balanced attack to secure the win.
Thomas again led the team with 13 points.Mike Scott scored 12 points. Three players popped in 11 points each; Nick Thompson, Franklin, and Darington Hobson. Hobson made his presence felt even more with 15 rebounds. England ended the double digit scoring list with 10 points.
On Saturday the team found themselves in the SWAC championship game. At the first media time out CEU found themselves down by two. Then SLCC went on a 9-0 run and soon had a 15 point lead. The Eagles clawed their way back but were still down by 12 at the half
In the second half the Eagles finally got things rolling and forced SLCC to call a time out with 7:26 left on the clock as CEU cut the lead to just three points.
The Bruins regrouped and the deficit grew again for the Eagles. CEU managed only a free throw from Hobson and a three pointer from Franklin down the stretch. SLCC made their free throws and got the win.
For the game CEU shot 52 percent as the second half heated up with 58 percent shooting. It was three pointers that kept CEU in the game as they made 13 of them. Free throws, however, were non-existent for the Eagles hitting only four of seven.
Hobson scored 15 points and Isaiah Williams hit for 14. Phillip Thomas ended with 12. Stephen Franklin added 11.
SLCC will now face another region winner for a play-in game to go to nationals. The Bruins finished second last year.