Top ranked Idaho schools provide challenges for USU Eastern teams
While both the mens and womens teams are currently in the thick of Scenic West Athletic Conference play, one team is playing well while the other is struggling to find their rhythm.
For the USU Eastern womens team, the early start to the SWAC conference season has gone well with their only blemish being to the defending National Junior College champions from North Idaho College 57-55 on Friday night.
The Lady Eagles were locked in a back and forth battled with NIC all through the game. Eastern led by four at the half and shortly after beginning the second half, they grabbed their biggest lead of the night 37-29 on a jumper by Amy Arbon.
The teams continued trading baskets with each other until NIC tied the game at 49-49 with 3:15 left in the game. Eastern took a 53-50 lead on a Priscila Santos jumper but NIC chipped away at the lead thanks to free throws down the stretch.
NIC took their first lead of the second half 54-53 off a steal from Korina Baker and a basket by Julia Salimo.
Eastern answered right back as Santos hit a jumper with 21 seconds left. But NIC's Katie Burkey scored a basket and drew a foul from Eastern's Brooke Slade in the final seconds to help get the 57-55 win for the visitors.
Santos led Eastern with 28 points and eight rebounds. Caitlin Nelson and Hailee Parry each added nine points.
Against the College of Southern Idaho on Saturday, the Eastern women did not need to go down to the wire for the 62-50 win.
After CSI tied the game at 15-15 with 12:41 left in the first half, Eastern began to build a lead reaching as much as 14 points and never relinquished the lead through the second half.
Santos again led the team with 29 points and eight rebounds. Nelson added 11 points and six rebounds while Parry finished with eight points and a team-high nine assists.
The Eastern women (12-8, 4-1 SWAC) next travel to Rangely, Colo., for a game with Colorado Northwestern Community College on Friday night at 5:30 p.m.
For the USU Eastern mens team, conference play has not been as kind. NIC tied the game at 61-61 before heading into overtime. In the extra period, NIC pulled away for the 74-70 win on Friday night.
Against seventh ranked CSI on Saturday, Eastern battled well into the second half. But after pulling even at 67-67 on a jumper by McKay LaSalle, CSI pulled away outscoring Eastern 18-8 the rest of the way for the 85-75 win.
Sophomore Neveij Walters led a balanced scoring attack over the weekend averaging 11 points per game.
The Eastern men (13-6, 1-4 SWAC) will face CNCC on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.