This archived article was written by: Katie Bigelow
The past three weeks have been up and down for the Utah State University Eastern Lady Eagles. On November 17-19, 2011 they traveled to Central Wyoming to play Northeastern Junior College, Casper College and Colby Community College in the Casper Pizza Hut Invitational. Over Thanksgiving break the Lady Eagles played Treasure Valley Community College, and Otero Junior College.
NJC out of Sterling, Colo. came out hard and aggressive against USU Eastern. Head coach Dave Paur said, “Northeastern Junior College came out with a good defensive game.” They double-teamed Priscila Santos and the team struggled to run their offense. “They took us out of our game. In the past 10 games, this was the only team that has shut Priscila down.”
At half time, USU Eastern was down 36-18. The second half proved to be better. The Lady Eagles were outscored by 7 with second half scores being 22-29. Final score of the game was 40-65. Santos had 11 points, with Abbie Kay and Caitlin Nelson contributing 7 points. Nelson had the team’s 4 blocks and the team had 11 steals.
Casper College came strong and fast against the Lady Eagles. “Casper might be the most aggressive defensive team we have played,” said Paur. At half time, the Eagles were down 38-26. Eastern would get within comeback position and Casper would hit a three.
Paur added, “they had very good perimeter shooters, about five of them were three-point shooters.” The second half scores were 34-30, with Eastern still out scored. The game ended with a Casper win, 72-56.
Paur said, “Casper worked hard and were aggressive from the start. The refs let them play that way too.” The team struggled with turnovers, racking up 41. Santos had 34 points and Amy Abron had 7 points. The team had 19 steals and 6 blocks.
Colby was the final set of the weekend in Wyoming. After the rough two losses, the Lady Eagles came out with fire against Colby. “Colby actually played Casper and Northeastern better than we did. They almost beat NJC,” Paur said. Eastern’s defense was solid and offense worked out great. The first half had the Eagles up 42-19.
Not letting down in the second half, Eastern held Colby under 50 points. The team allowed Colby 26 points to Eastern’s 35 in the second half. The final score was an Eastern victory, 77-45. Coach Paur said, “we beat them handily. It was our best defensive effort this year.” Santos scored 40 points and Shelby Carson contributed 7. The team had 21 steals: 5 from Katie Bigelow and 4 from Arbon. 19 assists were racked up by the team, Hailee Perry and Arbon had 4 each.
Thanksgiving was an on-and-off weekend for the Lady Eagles. Treasure Valley was a solid win with Otero being a hard loss.
Treasure Valley let the Eagles come in and force their tough defense on them. “It was Treasure Valley’s first game this year against us. They were inexperienced,” said Paur. Half time score had the Eagles up 40-21. Second half scores were close with the Eagles 36-33. At the end of the game the Lady Eagles won 76-54.
Paur commented, “we had good defense. Treasure Valley will get better, but at this time they were not a match for us.” Santos had 30 points with Jasmine Petit producing 10. The Eagles had 20 steals, 5 from Santos and 4 from Perry. Again, the team had 19 assists, 5 from Arbon.
To end the holiday weekend, Eastern played Otero. “Otero was a 10-0 solid ball club. They had a good inside game and had previously beaten Salt Lake the night before,” Paur said. The Lady Eagles played solid defense and displayed good execution on offense. Half time showed Eagles down by one, 22-21.
The second half was rough and Eastern was out scored 24-15. Even with the tough defense the team lost 46-36. Paur said, “we played with tenacity and good defense. We held them 30 points under their average and lost.” Santos scored 16 points, and the team had 11 steals.
Over the preseason schedule, Paur commented, “In 23 years of coaching, this might be the toughest preseason schedule I’ve had. Never before have I played the fifth, sixth, and seventh teams in the nation.” Those national teams were Midland, Texas; Casper, Wyoming; and Central Arizona.
“Northeastern’s record was 30-2, Otero is 10-0, we haven’t played anyone easy. Even the all-star team hasn’t lost to a junior college yet. It would be nice to play an easier schedule, but it just hasn’t happened. We have to fight our way out,” said Paur. The team has solid stats that do not reflect their record.
“Over ten games and hard competition, we held our opponents to a 53-point average. North Idaho has held their opponents to 58 points, but they’ve only played four games. We are leading defensive rebounds, the best foul-shot shooting team, and averaging 40 percent in the field in the league. We held teams to 15-percent from three-point range, but average 21 turnovers. With those stats we should be 7-3,” added Paur. Individually, Santos is the leading scorer and defensive rebounder in the league.