This archived article was written by: David Osborne Jr.
Since the first conference loss to Salt Lake Community College on the road two weeks ago, the road woes continued for the USU Eastern Golden Eagles.
While starting out region play hot, beating four out of the five teams in the first matches of the year, the second round has not been as inviting to the Golden Eagles. The team has been on the road however, so the panic button should not be pressed yet and although they have a four-game losing streak, they have a record of 17-5 so certainly all is not lost with home stands against all of the conference teams at least one more time before the end of the season.
The Golden Eagles took the third game of their long road trip north of the Utah border to Twin Falls, Idaho, to take on the College of Southern Idaho. According to head coach Vando Bechelli, “[Chris] Craig always said that you win our conference through Twin Falls.” Craig is a former head coach of the Golden Eagles and took them to the national tournament in 2009-10.
The team certainly wanted to win on the road against CSI, a tough task in its own right since CSI has only lost six games in the last four years on their home floor. The Golden Eagles weren’t able to make this a reality though as they learned first-hand how difficult it is to win up there.
Many things went wrong for the Golden Eagles in Twin Falls, starting out with the shooting percentage. The team only hit 20 out of their 61 shots for a shooting percentage of 32.8 percent. The free-throw percentage wasn’t much better, hitting 15 out of 30, 50 percent. The Golden Eagles allowed CSI to hit 51.9 percent of their shots and hit almost 70 percent of their free throws. The Golden Eagles were able to win the rebound battle with a two-rebound edge, 44-42. In the end after the final buzzer had sounded, the Golden Eagles had lost 103-59.
Two days later USU Eastern headed even farther north into Idaho to take on North Idaho College. Having been ejected from the game against CSI, according to Scenic West Athletic Conference rules, coach Vando was not able to coach the team against NIC and so assistant coach Justin Brown had to take over the head coaching duties.
Once again the shooting woes continued for the Golden Eagles hitting only 35 percent of their shots from the field and again struggling from the free-throw line hitting 19-29 for 65.5 percent.
The Golden Eagles were able to get three players into double-digits in the points category however, being led by Kendahl Amerson with 27 points while adding five rebounds to his stat sheet. Rebounds seemed to be the problem for the Golden Eagles in this game being out rebounded 50-38, compounded with 19 turnovers for USU Eastern and only 11 for NIC. It was another perfect storm in the far reaches of the north, at the final buzzer NIC 83, USU Eastern 65.
For the third week in a row the Golden Eagles had to go on the road, this time to take on the Colorado Northwestern Community College Spartans in Rangely, Colo., where the Spartans have a record of 6-15 on the season.
The Golden Eagles had another tough go of it on the road with low shooting percentages again, 49.1 percent from the field and an abysmal 19-40 from the charity stripe.
The team did beat the Spartans in almost all aspects of the game holding them to only 39 percent from the field, beating the Spartans 46-32 on the boards, but again the Golden Eagles had more turnovers, 17 to CNCC’s 14 and total points when the scoreboard hit double zeroes, losing 84-80.
Amerson once again led USU Eastern with 20 points and four other players finished in double-digits.
One other problem for the Golden Eagles against CNCC was the foul trouble. Four players ended up fouling out, including two starters.
The Golden Eagles will look to end their losing streak when they play host to Salt Lake Community College and Snow College this week. The SLCC game will be on Thursday, Jan. 30 with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off and the Snow game will be on Saturday, Feb. 2, with a 5 p.m. tip-off. The Golden Eagles are ranked third in the Scenic West Athletic Conference behind CSI and SLCC with three weeks to gain ground in the ranks before the start of conference tournament.