CEU Jonathan Mills hit a huge three-point basket with two minutes left to help carry the Eagles to victory in the opening game of the 2010 NJCAA basketball tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.
CEU led by large margins several times, but allowed their North Platte (Neb.) opponents to come dangerously close to tying and leading more than once in a nail-biting finish in the opening round of the 2010 National Junior College Athletic Association basketball championship tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. on Tuesday, March 16.
Leading at one point by 15, the Eagles allowed the Knights to come within one before pulling away for the 71-62 win - which advances the club to the Elite Eight round on Thursday, March 18 where they will take on Wallace State (Ala.).
Freshman forward Michael Glover poured in a game-high 28 points to bolster his SWAC Player of the Year credentials.
The first half started slow but Eastern Utah managed to rally early at one point enjoying a 15-point lead.
Poor passing and a much more dramatic performance by the North Platte Knights led to the closing of the gap for North Platte.
Glover led the Eagles with 16 points at the half with eight of those coming from the free throw line, going 8-10.
Chase Grabau of the Knights led his team in points after hitting three three-pointers late in the half closing the gap. The Knights rallied starting with eight minutes remaining and went for a 15-2 run.
Both teams struggled with being calm and settling down for the game early on. After the nerves were worked out the Eagles dominated the game early on. Better rebounding led to their success early on and continued to prove to be important in the first half.
Tenacious play was effective for both teams as they methodically set up their plays well, moving the ball around the court finding open players.
Keeping the Eagles in the lead was Glover's ability to make his free shots. He ended up going 14-21 from the line. Rebounds were crucial to the effectiveness of the Eagle defense. Glover and Jonathan Mills ended up with double doubles for the game and led the way rebounding. CEU more than doubled North Platte's 22 rebounds with 47.
With 8:30 left in the first half, NPCC went on a 15-2 run in five minutes.
CEU's Jonathan Mills hit a three-pointer with less than two minutes to play that ended up being the deciding factor in the contest.