The USUE Eagles men’s basketball team defeated the College of Southern Nevada Coyotes 82-58 in their last home game of the basketball season last Saturday. The 17-10 Eagles closed out the regular season Tuesday night at Colorado Northwestern Community college as the Eagle newspaper went to press.
Both USUE and Southern Nevada came into the game neck-and-neck in the Scenic West Athletic Conference. The Eagles were fourth in the conference at 9-8, while the Coyotes were one game behind the Eagles in the standings. Playoff seeding was on the line, and the Eagles did not disappoint.
Tipoff started with both teams exchanging leads. Sharpshooter Payton Faslev of Benson, Utah began the game with a couple of threes to build the Eagle’s early momentum, but the Coyotes responded with a basket and were able to tie the game.
CSN took a five-point lead late into the first half until 6-foot-4 sophomore wing Kurt Wegscheider hit a crucial three to cut the Coyote lead to two points going into halftime, 32-30.
Although the game started close in the first half, the Eagles ran away in the second. The Eagle’s offense caught fire as the Coyote’s went cold. In the last ten minutes of the game, the Coyote offense was outscored 31-12.
Wegscheider and sophomore guard Kevin Bethel of Los Angeles, sparked the second-half run, both players making crucial shots. Bethel’s passing ability was on full display after a beautiful pass to sophomore wing Dillon Sorensen that put the Eagles up by 16. The Eagles would lead by as many as 25 points in the second half and would go onto win by 24.
The Eagles outscored the Coyotes 52-26 in the second half while putting up an impressive defensive performance along the way. The Eagle’s defense forced 11 turnovers in the second half and held the Coyotes to a poor shooting percentage. Freshman guard BJ Davis from Brentwood, Tennessee was a pest all night long. He led the Eagle’s defensive run finishing the game with four steals. The Eagles in the second half dominated the Coyotes and won in a blowout.
USUE’s offense had four players scoring in double digits for points by the end of the game. The Eagles bench was the most impressive and vital factor that helped the Eagles win. The bench scored 38 points in the crucial win. Leading the way was 6-foot-2 guard Kevin Bethel who finished the game with 12 points and five assists off the bench. Starter Wegscheider continued his impressive year with another good game: he ended with 15 points including three three-pointers.
With the regular season over, the Eagles had a chance to climb the SWAC standings. They were in fourth place in the conference, but if the College of Southern Idaho lost two of their last three conference games and the Eagles won their final game against Colorado Northwestern, they will move up to third place.