This archived article was written by: David Osborne Jr.
With their foot on the gas and don’t show signs of letting up any time soon the Utah State University Eastern men’s basketball team opened their season Nov. 4, 2011. They have refused to look in the rearview mirror leaving six teams in the dust and in the wake of tragedy, they have found ways to come out ahead in the end.
The first game means new birth, new players, new coaches and the electrifying energy of a new season beginning. Getting to begin the season at home is always a big advantage because you get to play in front of your fans and show them what you have to work with for the coming season and the Eagles certainly took full advantage of the hype.
USU Eastern hosted Impact Prep, an All-Star team from Las Vegas on Nov. 4. Head coach Brian Edelstein said, “We came out with some first-game nerves, and once we got settled in, it was good. They [Impact Prep] have already played some games [this season] and a lot of our guys, it was their first college game. It was about getting comfortable on the court and getting acclimated to the college game.”
Neveij Walters led the team with 31 points, going 14-18 from the field. Chase Flint added another 11 points along with 13 assists. “Their [Impact Prep] lack of size, we were able to exploit with both Neveij Walters and David Walters inside, they were extremely efficient,” added Edelstein. Dawson added 10 points and was perfect from the field; going 5-5.The final score had USU Eastern winning 92-64.
On Nov. 5, USU Eastern played host to Salt Lake Metro, another All-Star team. Once again the team showed how they could and would be a dominating force on the court this season. Edelstein said that they key to the game was consistently taking good shots and getting to the basket against Salt Lake Metro.
The Golden Eagles had five players with double-digits in the points column. Walters and Demetrus Richardson lead the team with 19 points. McKay LaSalle had 17 and both Flint and Travon Langston added 15 points. Flint once again led the team with 8 assists, and Walters brought down 8 rebounds. “We had a lot of our wing players’ play well that game,” commented Edelstein. USU Eastern left the BDAC with the scoreboard reading 104-93.
USU Eastern then traveled to Arizona to take on three teams on the road. The Eagles opened their road trip against Central Arizona College, on Nov. 9. “This was our first real test, they are a really good team and we had to beat them possession by possession,” said Edelstein. In what was the closest game of the year, the Eagles had one of their worst performances. The team shot 38 percent from the field and had only 7 assists in the 40-minute game. Dashaun Wiggins led the team with 21 points and 2 assists. Flint added 17 points and brought down an amazing 8 rebounds. The Golden Eagles took their first away game 77-74.
On November 11, the Golden Eagles faced Chandler-Gilbert Community College. USU Eastern returned to their normal dominating demeanor against CGCC. Edelstein said, “We kind of controlled it from the start, we guarded well in the first half. We beat them pretty soundly, start to finish.” At one point in the game Eastern led CGCC by 31 points. Flint once again came out on top scoring 16 points and dishing 3 assists. Walters added 11 points and brought down 9 rebounds. “There wasn’t one stand-out player, everybody was contributing,” commented Edelstein. Lasalle shot 3-4 beyond the arc. The team left CGCC stunned, winning 80-64.
USU Eastern finished their road trip against Eastern Arizona College and pulled out another close win. The Golden Eagles were led by Wiggins who had 16 points and Flint added another 13 while handing out 4 assists. “They were the best team that we played so far; we actually did a really good job and got up on them early. We were up 16 at halftime,” said Edelstein. USU Eastern shot 53 percent from the field, 38 percent from beyond the 3-point line and 80 percent from the free-throw stripe. Although Eastern led by 16 at halftime, EAC was able to climb back into the game, but when the final buzzer sounded the Golden Eagles had claimed another win.