TWIN FALLS — It was College of Southern Idaho’s final game of the regular season, the final home game for CSI’s seven sophomores. And it was a blowout.
The CSI women’s basketball team sent its sophomores off to the Region 18 tournament with one of its most impressive wins of the season: 67-47 on Thursday over Scenic West Athletic Conference foe Snow College, which beat the Golden Eagles in their previous two meetings.
“We’ve really wanted to beat them the whole year,” said CSI sophomore guard Meghan Hughes, a Filer High School graduate. “That’s how we should play every game. We just finally put it all together.”
Snow (21-7, 8-3) won two fairly close games over CSI (22-8, 7-5) last month: 69-66 in Twin Falls and 64-55 in Ephraim, Utah. The Badgers ended CSI’s 2016-17 season in the Region 18 tournament, snapping a four-year region title winning streak.
After a quiet first quarter Thursday night, the Golden Eagles dominated the second 22-7 to take a 32-18 lead going into halftime. They outshot the Badgers 43.8 to 18.8 percent in the quarter and won the rebounding battle 16-6.
Jerome High School graduate Kaela McClure scored 10 of her team-high 13 points in the first half.
But the offense wasn’t what turned a close game into a 20-point win.
“We really emphasized defense this time,” Hughes said. “If our defense is doing good, we do good.”
Snow struggled shooting in every quarter but the third (8-of-18 from the field), and it went 2-of-9 from 3 in that quarter. In the game, the Badgers shot 29.5 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from 3-point range. They only attempted six free throws, as well, making five of them.
CSI also controlled the boards, finishing with 51 to Snow’s 37. Golden Eagles sophomore Tiena Afu grabbed a game-high 12 boards to go along with 11 points (4-of-14 from the field).
CSI freshman Mallory Lapoole had nine points (4-of-6 from the field) and 10 rebounds, and Hughes finished with six points (2-of-6) and 10 boards.
Afu, Hughes, Meghan’s sister Katie Hughes, Chesney Campbell, Sydney Clark, Jane Nelson and Jaime Nielson were the seven sophomores honored after Thursday’s game.
Meghan Hughes said her coaches put letters in each of the sophomore’s lockers, but she hadn’t opened hers by the end of Thursday’s game.
“When all the other sophomores were reading theirs, they started crying. So I left mine because I didn’t want to cry before the game,” she said.
Postgame, Hughes wasn’t exactly sure when she’d open her letter.
“Maybe in my room,” she said.
CSI finished third in the SWAC standings behind second-place Snow and Salt Lake CC. The Region 18 tournament will be played at Snow College, and it runs from next Thursday through Saturday.
“I feel like we haven’t even peaked yet,” Hughes said. “We’re getting there.”