Head Coach Brad Barton and Assistant Coach Chris Skinkis, center, look on at the action on the court during CEU's 80-77 win over Salt Lake Community College on Feb. 18. Barton, in his first year as head coach, will attempt to guide CEU to its second straight Scenic West Athletic Conference tournament championship.
With a nine game winning streak on the line, EU headed to face off with Southern Idaho. Both teams were tied for first place at the top of the SWAC. Only one would come out on top. After a tie and two overtime periods, it was CSI over North Idaho College by two points on Thursday evening. On Saturday a flat EU team also dropped a second game in a row to NIC by the score of 62-53 to end up the regular season in second place.
EU was able to build up a six point lead by the half as they battled the other Golden Eagles. But when two top ten teams meet up, nothing is safe and CSI clawed their way back into the game. EU held on to a slim three point lead as Jonathan Mills was on the line with eight seconds remaining. He missed and all the team had to do is stop CSI.
Coach Brad Barton told his team not to contest any layup attempt, but stop any threes. But something broke down on the defense and the entire team converged into the paint as CSI kicked it out and with .6 seconds on the clock, a trey swished into the hoop.
A stalemate ensued for the first overtime period, but CSI prevailed in the second OT by a single bucket and sewed up the region championship.
Mills was top scorer with a double-double of 22 points and 13 boards. Bryant Crowder added 18 followed by Maxim Zakharov. Brady Hurst also had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Trevor Bamgartner rounded out the top scorers with 10.
To finish off regular play, EU headed to take on NIC on Saturday evening. The game began with one of the worst first halves of play the team has had in a long time. They scored only 18 points while the Cardinals put up 26.
The team seemed to wake up and find their rhythm in the final period, but could not do much more than keep the deficit from growing. In the end they lost by nine. Only Zakharov and Crowder scored in double figures with 12 each.
EU's final record did earn them a second seed and a first round bye in the SWAC tournament. They will face off on Friday March 4 in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Their opponent will be the winner of the SLCC and CNCC game that takes place Thursday afternoon. If EU is successful they will most likely face CSI one more time for the Region 18 title and a chance for another shot at the NJCAA tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.