A 700-mile bus trip to Arizona and a squad full of newcomers may have contributed to a slow start for the USU Eastern men's basketball team as they split two games to open the new season.
USU Eastern dropped their first game 93-61 to Arizona Western on Thursday but followed that up with a 73-60 win over Tohono O'odham Community College on Friday.
USU Eastern men's Head Coach Adjalma Becheli said the team came out slow against Arizona Western and were never able to overcome the deficit they put themselves in.
"We just played terrible against Arizona Western," Becheli said. "We played much better in the second half but by then it was too late for us."
Becheli said the team showed a much better effort against Tohono O'odham CC with a balanced scoring effort as Miles Gatewood led the team with 19 points. Jason Timpf had 17 points and Jeff Perkins added 17 points and seven rebounds.
"That's the kind of offense I want to see from the team," Becheli said of the balanced scoring effort.
Becheli said the team will spend a lot of time this week working on defense and executing plays and sets on offense. Becheli said he is working with an eight player rotation at the moment but it looking for one or two more players to step up going forward.
"We have to be ready to play each game," he said. "Hopefully this weekend we will play better and come together as a team.
USU Eastern will travel to Thatcher, Ariz., for a tournament hosted by Eastern Arizona starting on Friday through Saturday.