USU Eastern's Larissa Quintana (#24) provided a key scoring option for the Lady Eagles in their 88-80 overtime win against North Idaho College on Dec. 12. Quintana finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Caroline Fisher (#15, right) looks to drive against the North Idaho defense during the second half. Fisher finished with 13 points against North Idaho and scored 11 points against College of Southern Idaho.
A new wave of USU Eastern players prepare to enter the game against North Idaho College. Head coach Dave Paur said he wants to keep players as rested as possible to play the fast-paced style he put into place this season.
USU Eastern women nearly pull off weekend sweep in four-point loss to #3 ranked College of Southern Idaho
The tests on the schedule with North Idaho College and College of Southern Idaho are enough to make any team uncomfortable.
Don't tell that to the USU Eastern womens basketball team.
A team struggling early in the non-conference schedule, the Lady Eagles rose to the occasion defeating #10 ranked North Idaho College 88-80 in overtime on Dec. 12 before dropping a close game with #6 ranked College of Southern Idaho 77-73 on Dec. 14.
USU Eastern head coach Dave Paur said the two games showed a lot about how far the team has come. With a new fast-paced style of play on both offense and defense, Paur has his players running up and down the court all game long. Add in the tough competition, and it made the outcomes of both games that much more impressive.
"Our team is a lot tougher than I anticipated," said Paur after the team's loss to Southern Idaho. "We're hanging tough and playing well against some top teams."
Against North Idaho, the Lady Eagles grabbed a second half lead of 20 points and looked headed to a runaway win. But North Idaho had other ideas as they battled back and tied the game at 73 all with 30 seconds left in the game. USU Eastern's Larissa Quintana gave the Lady Eagles a two-point lead with 25 seconds left but two free throws by NIC helped send the game to overtime.
North Idaho took a 78-75 lead halfway through the extra period. Lejla Hadzialijagie added a free throw for Eastern to cut the deficit to 78-76 with over two minutes. After a stop on the defensive end, Caroline Fisher hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to give USU Eastern a 79-78 lead that energized the large crowd gathered in the BDAC on Fan Appreciation Night. They would never trail again as they outscored NIC 9-2 over the final two minutes to get the big Scenic West Athletic Conference win.
Jamie Smith led USU Eastern with 16 points. Fisher added 13 and Quintana had 12 points.
Against College of Southern Idaho on Dec. 14, USU Eastern took a 36-32 lead into halftime and led 59-51 with 10:56 left in the second half. But CSI started run that saw them retake the lead 62-61 with over seven minutes left. USU was able to keep things close down the stretch but CSI responded on offense every time. CSI eventually pulled away handing USU Eastern their first SWAC loss 77-73.
Paur said he was pleased with the effort and felt that the team had the opportunity to get the big win. He believes the team needs to continue playing at a quick pace and shoot more 3-pointers than they currently are. If they continue to improve in those areas, Paur believes the team can be a player in the SWAC.
"Our players are embracing the offense and they're getting better with every game," he said.