|Jamaal Smith drives downcourt during the Eagles battle with Northwestern Colorado on Saturday. CEU won the game|
Taking another win for the season Saturday against Colorado Northwestern Community College, CEU's men's basketball is now 3-3 in the conference.
"I feel good that we won, and I thought for the first 15 minutes of the first half, we played well defensively. Everyone was really rotating hard," said head coach Bryan Zollinger of the 89-73 score his team registered against CNCC.
He continued, "With five minutes to go in the half, we only had five turnovers, and we ended the half with nine. We had a letdown defensively, and when we let the lead go from 13 back to six, in that last five minutes, I think that gave them some wind in their sails for the second half."
Returning from the half, CEU brought in some powerful offense, sinking four of four three-point shots and improving their field goal percentage from 42 percent in the first half to 62 percent in the second.
"If we could have hit a couple free throws, taken care of the ball, kept our defensive intensity up, I think we could have got the lead out to 18 or 20 points," Zollinger suggested. "It would have given them a little more frustration, but I think by giving them that little bit of life, I think we made the game a little tougher on ourselves than we had to."
CNCC's Andrew Thorton led the game in scoring with 29 points with teammate Jeremy Bowie scoring 15 points and four assists. CEU's scoring leaders included Jamaal Smith with 16 points and eight assists, Tyler Billings with 13 points and one assist, Tate Sorensen with 12 points and three assists and Chris Lang with 11 points and five assists.
"I thought we were pretty balanced. I saw different guys scoring. We had two of our top four scorers out with injuries," explained Zollinger. "Eldridge [Henderson] was out before the game even started, and then John [Rogers] got hurt in the first half. And that's two of our top four scorers. I thought it was really nice that we had other people step up and hit some shots and play well in their absence. I think that tells you that you have good teamwork, and that you have a good bench."
Henderson leads the team in scoring with 209 points for the season. Averaging 50 percent accuracy in three-pointers and 61 percent from the line. Rogers averages 58 percent in field goals and 60 percent from the line.
The Eagles host North Idaho College this weekend with games both Friday and Saturday. CEU beat NIC by a narrow four-point margin on the road.
"We've been focusing on two things really. One is defense, where we're trying to force teams to shoot a worse percentage than what we've been giving up lately. So our field goal percentage defense has to improve," explained Zollinger "We've got to hold teams down in the low 40s in terms of field goal percentage if we're going to be successful in most of the games that we play in."
He continued, "Offensively, we're just trying to improve our turnover ratio."
For the season, CEU has thrown the ball away 224 times compared to 161 times by their opponents.