TWIN FALLS — In the waning seconds of overtime, College of Southern Idaho guard Charles Jones Jr. engaged Snow College head coach Robert Nielson in some playful trash talk.
CSI was at the free-throw line and finally had Thursday’s game in hand, rendering Nielson’s barbs ineffective.
“I got 25 and a dub,” Jones Jr. said to Nielson.
Jones Jr. scored 17 of his team-high 25 points in the second half/overtime, rescuing the Golden Eagles from a loss in the final regular season game of the season. The 95-87 Scenic West Athletic Conference win over Snow was also the last career home game for CSI’s seven sophomores, who include Jones Jr.
CSI struggled from start to finish in the first half. The Golden Eagles cut an early deficit to 25-21, but Snow went on a 15-4 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 40-26. CSI went into the locker room trailing 42-34.
Halftime deficits to Snow have been common this season. CSI trailed 32-28 at halftime of its the first meeting with the Badgers (an 83-79 home win) and 37-36 at half of the second game (a 97-69 road win).
CSI struggled shooting in the first half (33 percent from the field, 18.8 percent from 3-point range) and struggled to stop the Badgers, who made 51.6 percent of their field goals and 57.1 percent of their 3s.
Snow freshmen Logan Hokanson and Stockton Shorts were especially potent, each scoring 14 points and going 4-of-5 on 3-pointers in the half.
The Golden Eagles outscored Snow 9-2 on free throws and 11-2 on points off turnovers to keep the deficit within reach.
Snow continued to hold the edge for the first nine minutes of the second half, leading by as many as 13. But trailing 63-51 with 11:12 left, CSI changed the tide.
The Golden Eagles went on a 22-7 run to take a 73-70 lead. From there, the game went back-and-forth.
CSI appeared to be in control with 1:53 left, when it built a 78-74 lead following a Tommy Burton dunk. It was in control with about 30 seconds left, leading 80-79 with about a one-second difference between shot and game clock. A Snow assistant coach told Nielson they needed to foul.
But Jones Jr. turned it over, which led to a go-ahead layup for Snow with 13 seconds left. Roberto Gittens bailed the Golden Eagles out with a 3 on the other end, prompting a Snow timeout.
CSI played good defense on the next possession, but Hokanson came through again. He hit an acrobatic layup off the glass as time expired to send the game into overtime.
Hokanson and Shorts finished tied for the game-high in points at 30 apiece on efficient shooting. But most of their misses came late in the game, especially in OT. Hokanson went 2-of-6 from the field and 0-of-3 from 3 in the extra period, while Shorts missed both of his shots.
Several players keyed CSI’s comeback, including Danya Kingsby (11 points and seven rebounds), Gittens (11 and six) and Tommy Burton (nine and 10). Khalid Thomas and Jake Hendricks also heated up in the second half after cool first halves.
But Jones Jr. was by far the biggest star. The sophomore went 7-of-10 on field goals and 3-of-4 from 3 in the second half (9-of-15 and 3-of-5, overall).
Oh, and he got 25 and a W.
The Region 18 tournament, hosted by Snow, begins next Thursday and runs through Saturday. If Salt Lake CC beats Colorado Northwestern CC on Saturday, it will get the top seed, and CSI (26-4, 10-2) will be second.