Home sweet home: Eagles back in conference race with sweep of CSI and NIC
Losing three games put EU men in a position that they had to make every game count the rest of the way. This weekend in front of the home crowd, the team did just that as they beat both Southern and Northern Idaho to maintain their spot in second place in the Scenic West Athletic Conference. Friday night EU downed CSI 82-72. On Saturday it was more of the same with the Eagles coming out on top 78-73.
The Saturday match up was huge for EU. CSI is in first place and ranked 6th in the nation. A win also keeps CSI from owning the tie breaker if the two are even at the end of the season.
Both teams were playing great ball and keeping the game tight. Eastern held a slim four point lead at the end of the half.
Guards James Kinney and Trevor Bamgartner did a lot of damage to the Idaho team with solid shooting. Before the final period was half over CSI was down by only a point, but a pair of free throws by Jonathan Mills and an open jumper by Kinney put the Eagles top for good. Mills put up another double/double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The big man in the middle, Bryant Crowder blocked four shots while scoring 11 points. Kinney led the scoring with 19 and Bamgartner added 15. Eastern's inside game won the battle of the paint. They outscored CSI 36 to 20 under the hoop.
"This was a huge win for us," said Coach Brad Barton after the game. "Now we need to take care of business by beating NIC. These wins keep us in a great spot heading into the final round of play."
On Saturday James Kinney continued his hot shooting with 21 points as the Golden Eagles took out NIC. They started out slow, but turned it around midway through the first half as Neveij Walters came off the bench and blocked two shots.
That sparked a scoring run which gave Eastern some separation from North Idaho on the way to their sixth straight win.
A double/double by Brady Hurst helped seal the win as he scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Bryant Crowder accounted for all of the bench scoring with 14. Maxim Zakharov added 12.
This week EU begins the final sweep through their SWAC opponents with a weekend game in Rangely.
There are only five games left in SWAC play.