Golden Eagles taking things one step at a time
Team goes 1-1 during road trip to Eastern Arizona; Head Coach Becheli says team's defensive performance must improve
Defense, ball pressure, forcing turnovers, playing smart basketball.
These are just some of the main things USU Eastern Men's Head Coach Adjalma Becheli will be preaching to his team throughout the rest of the season.
USU Eastern went 1-1 on a road trip to Thatcher, Ariz., for a tournament held at Eastern Arizona. USU Eastern defeated Chandler-Gilbert on Friday 66-52 and lost to Eastern Arizona 84-53 on Saturday.
Becheli said the team played well considering they were missing four players who were suspended for the tournament and did not make the trip. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 32-23 halftime lead against Chandler-Gilbert and did not let them get back into the game in the second half.
"We played well and were able to force a lot of turnovers which led to points on offense," Becheli said.
The Golden Eagles forced 16 turnovers and the backcourt combination of Travon Langston and Ryan Salcedo led the offensive attack with 15 points and 13 points respectively.
Things continued to look promising against Eastern Arizona on Saturday as the two teams played a close first half which saw Eastern Arizona take a 31-30 lead.
However, the second half was a different story. Eastern Arizona began knocking down a number of three-point shots which quickly put the Golden Eagles into a large deficit. Eastern Arizona outscored the Golden Eagles 53-23 in the second half.
"They (Eastern Arizona) played really fast in the second half and hit a lot of three-point shots against our defense," Becheli said.
Salcedo hurt his ankle midway through the first half, Becheli said, which left the team without a solid backcourt option.
"When Salcedo went down, we didn't have anyone to handle the ball on offense," he said.
Eastern Arizona took advantage of the situation and began utilizing a press defense which helped lead to the Golden Eagles committing 26 turnovers in the game.
"We just made too many mistakes in the second half," he said.
Jeff Perkins led the Golden Eagles with 11 points and Langston added 10. Dytanya Johnson led the team with six rebounds and teammate Todd Helgeson finished with five rebounds.
USU Eastern (2-2) will return home for its first home games of the season this weekend. The team will host the Otis All-Stars on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for a scrimmage and a game on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Becheli said the team will be focusing on honing their defensive skills in anticipation of the weekend games.
"I'm not very happy with out defense right now," he explained. "We need to be able to defend and execute better."