TWIN FALLS — Pull up. Shoot. Hold the finish.
Jake Hendricks followed the steps as he drained a game-winning 3-pointer well behind the key Saturday night. The College of Southern Idaho held on for a 83-79 win over Snow College in its first Scenic West Athletic Conference game of the season.
The situation — down by one, less than 10 seconds remaining — wasn’t a common one for Hendricks, but the gameplan was.
“We always do that,” he said. “At the end of the game or the end of the half, I throw it in, then trail and hope for an open shot. Tonight, it was pretty open.”
Hendricks is a 3-point specialist for the Golden Eagles, attempting a team-high 7.5 3-pointers per game. But against Snow, he struggled, shooting 2-for-9 from the field and 1-of-5 from 3 on the night.
But his rough night didn’t affect how he felt on his final shot.
“That was probably the best one all year,” he said. “Honestly, it just feels good to beat Snow. We had to get revenge for last year.”
Last season, Snow went 4-1 overall against CSI, including a 105-81 win in Twin Falls to end the series. But in the first matchup between the two this season, the Golden Eagles were able to grind out a win.
CSI started with a fair amount of energy, led by Nico Urrieta, who finished the game with 13 points.
“Nico was really good for us in that first half,” CSI head coach Jared Phay said. “He was the only one hitting shots early on.”
Roberto Gittens, returning from a knee injury, also helped keep the Golden Eagles within striking distance at half, as Snow led 32-28.
“Roberto had a little run tonight where he was knocking down some shots for us,” Phay said. “He’s still not 100 percent, but he’s getting there.”
With little help from the perimeter in terms of production, the Golden Eagles had to drive the rim. Easier said than done in this game, Phay said.
“The refs let it be very physical both ways, and I felt like we were expecting contact or a foul and we weren’t getting it,” he said. “Plus, we didn’t do a great job of finishing.”
Phay wasn’t letting up on his game plan of driving to the basket, though, and it paid off in the second half.
“We finished a little bit better at the rim, but even when we didn’t, we got to the free-throw line fairly well,” he said.
The Golden Eagles finished 20-for-26 from the line in the game, while Snow only had eight free-throw attempts, all of which it made.
It was second tight finish in three games. CSI was also tested in against South Plains, which downed the Golden Eagles 69-65 last week at the Fiesta Bowl Shootout for their second loss of the season.
Phay and Hendricks said tonight’s win put a little more confidence in their late-game efforts.
“We learned we can play good defense and get stops when we need to,” Hendricks said. “That’s really what won this game.”
A few other CSI players were difference-makers in the game. Roche Grootfaam, who struggled in the first half, scored four quick points in the second half and finished the game with 14 (6-of-7 from the free-throw line). Malik Porter led the team in rebounds with seven (four offensive).
Phay said the key to future games, including their next one against Salt Lake CC on Thursday, will be staying disciplined throughout.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better every day and realize that every possession matters,” he said.