|CEU freshman Belford Williams shoots two over Zarryon Fereti at a home game against CSI in January. Southern Idaho eliminated CEU in semifinals at the SWAC tournament last week.|
Last week at the Scenic West Athletic Conference men's basketball championship in Twin Falls, Idaho, the College of Eastern Utah's men finished their season with a win against Dixie State, 74-66, and a loss against College of Southern Idaho, 110-120.
On March 9, the Eagles faced Dixie State. Although the fourth-ranked Rebels were the favored team, even receiving votes in NJCAA polls, CEU went 2-1 against Dixie for the season, and the fifth-ranked Eagles came out ahead.
Starting out with a pair of free-throws by Jamaal Smith and a field goal by John Rogers, CEU had four points on the board before Rebel Jason Petrimoulx scored the first two points for St. George.
Eastern Utah kept a narrow lead until nine minutes into the half, when Dixie sank 12 unanswered points, taking CEU's three point lead into a nine-point deficit. Dixie maintained their lead by as much as 13 points, and ended the half ahead by two.
The beginning of the second half was more of the same treatment by the Rebels, who brought their two-point edge back up to nine as the Eagles' shooting average began to sink.
With 12 minutes to go in the game, and CEU down by nine, the tables turned, and Dixie State spent eight minutes on the court without making a single field goal and just five free throws. CEU pulled ahead, scoring 21 points on a team of seemingly crippled Rebels.
While Dixie had the win within three points with four minutes to go, CEU's ability to shoot accurately and take rebounds after numerous Dixie misses took CEU to the win. CEU ended the game 74-66, advancing to play College of Southern Idaho, and sending the Rebels back to St. George.
High stats for Wednesday's game included Eldridge Henderson, with 16 points; Chris Lang, with 13 points; Smith with 12 points and five assists; Rogers, with 10 points; and Tate Sorensen, with nine rebounds.
Dixie's Petrimoulx had 20 points, including two three-pointers. Henry Uhegwu scored 14 points, including three three-pointers, and made four assists. Alex Blair led the team with 11 rebounds.
The SWAC men's tournament took a one-day break during the women's quarterfinals on Thursday and the CEU Golden Eagles faced first-ranked CSI's Golden Eagles in a semi-final game on Friday. With just seven teams in the region, CSI advanced to the semifinal bracket automatically after a quarterfinal bye.
CEU had not made it to semifinal rounds since 2001, when they beat Utah Valley State College, and hasn't made it to a conference final in much longer.
The semifinal round against CSI began with a good start for CEU, who scored seven points before CSI's first basket two minutes into the game. Eastern Utah kept their lead, increasing it to 11 points before CSI brought the lead back down to within reach.
Midway through the half, CEU began missing field goals and sent CSI to the line for six free throws in a span of three minutes. Southern Idaho pulled ahead to a 10-point lead with five minutes left in the half and ended the period ahead by eight.
It was 10 minutes into the second half before CEU could make any sort of impact on their opponent's lead. But in a two-point game with nine minutes on the clock, CSI went to the line four times in two minutes. With CEU only making two points of their own, CSI pulled ahead to a four-point lead. As the rest of regulation time expired, CEU was unable to get the game closer than five points, and let CSI lead by as much as 13.
The game ended 120-110, advancing CSI to the final round, and sending CEU packing.
Smith had 27 points and three assists. Lang has 23 points and five assists. Henderson had 20 points, while Billings had 10 rebounds.
CSI's Mohamed Kone had 30 points and 16 rebounds; Zarryon Fereti had 14 points and five assists; and Dani Hazut, Shaun Davis and Abdoulaye Ndiaye each had 13 points.
Other quarterfinal rounds ended with Snow beating North Idaho 79-68 and Salt Lake Community College beat Colorado Northwestern 90-57. Salt Lake advanced through semifinals, beating Snow 75-69. In the final round of the tournament, CSI beat SLCC 70-62.