TWIN FALLS — The College of Southern Idaho women’s basketball team did everything it could to keep Thursday’s game close in the first half. But poor shooting caught up to the Golden Eagles in the second.
CSI fell to Scenic West Athletic Conference rival Salt Lake Community College 68-58 Thursday night in Twin Falls. The final score masked how tight the game was early on, and how dominant No. 9-ranked SLCC played in the second half.
“Salt Lake tonight just came in here and smacked us,” CSI head coach Randy Rogers said.
The Golden Eagles lined up against an athletic, physical defense Thursday night, and the results bore out in the first half. CSI shot 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from the field in the first quarter and 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) in the second. The 20.6 percent first half mark was nearly 30 percentage points less than SLCC’s. And yet, CSI only trailed by two.
Free throws did not explain why the game was close (CSI was 8-of-10 from the line, SLCC was 6-of-8). The difference could be found in turnovers and rebounds.
CSI turned the ball over five times in the first half while forcing 12. The teams were tied at 19 rebounds apiece, but the Golden Eagles had a 10-2 advantage on the offensive glass. They outscored the Bruins 8-0 on second half points in the first half.
Both teams had reasons to be disappointed through two quarters. SLCC had a percentage advantage but only a slim lead to show for it, while CSI could barely make a shot. But the Golden Eagles had reason for optimism.
“You feel pretty good that if we start making some shots, we’re good,” Rogers said. “But we didn’t.”
CSI’s shooting percentage only improved slightly in the second half — the Golden Eagles went 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from the field in the final two quarters.
That improvement was negated by SLCC’s increased efficiency. The Bruins made 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) shots in the second half to finish the game at 55.3 percent.
CSI also struggled to hit shots in the third quarter, which SLCC won 21-11 to pull away.
“Third quarter, our heads were hanging because we weren’t making shots,” Rogers said. “Our defense suffered because we were letting the offense dictate our mental state.”
Bruins guard Tia Hay was the star of the game, and her biggest contributions came in the second half. She scored 19 of her game-high 23 points in the final two quarters and shot 7-of-12 from the field in that span (9-of-16 overall).
“She controlled that game,” Rogers said.
Chesney Campell led CSI with 14 points (5-of-14 shooting), Filer High School graduate Meghan Hughes had 12 points (4-of-12) and Tiena Afu added 10 points (3-of-12) and a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles were without freshman Mallory Lapoole, their top scorer this season at 13.1 points per game (54.9 field goal percentage). Rogers said she rolled her ankle in practice on Monday, and she likely miss the next game, if not more.
CSI (19-6, 4-3) plays at USU Eastern on Saturday.