The Eagles from the College of Eastern Utah led by big margins and allowed their opponents to come dangerously close to tying and leading more than once in a nail biting finish Tuesday night. Leading at one point by 15, the Eagles allowed the Knights to come within one before pulling away for the 71-62 win.
The first half started slow but Eastern Utah managed to rally early, at one point enjoying a 15 point lead. Poor passing and a much more dramatic performance by the Knights led to the closing of the gap for North Platte. Glover led the Eagles with 16 points at the half with eight of those coming from the line as he hits 80 percent from the line going 8-10. Chase Grabau of the Knights led his team in points after hitting 3 three-pointers late in the half, closing the gap. The Knights rallied together, starting with eight minutes remaining, and went for a 15 point run holding the eagles to two points in that time.
Both teams struggled to stay calm and settled down during game play early on. But the Eagles proved that they could keep their cool, and quickly began to dominate the game. Better rebounding led to their success and continued to prove to be important in the first half. Methodical gameplay was effective for both teams as they set up their plays well and moved the ball around the court, finding open players. Keeping the Eagles in the lead was Glover, whose ability to make his charity shots made the difference. He ended up going 14-21 from the line. Rebounds were crucial to the effectiveness of the Eagle defense. Glover and Mills ended up with double doubles for the game and led the way with rebounding. CEU more than doubled North Platte Community College's 22 boards with 47.
With 8:30 left in the first half, NPCC went on a 15-2 run in five minutes. The inability of the defense to keep the Knights from running the ball across both ends of the court showed through as frustration mounted on the faces of the Eagles. But the tables quickly turned and the team mounted an offensive attack against the Knights. At the half the score was 33-29 with CEU leading.
The second half began with CEU pulling away from the Knights. Foul trouble plagued the Knights early on the team had to bench several of their players, hoping to keep them from fouling out. NPCC's Grabau got two quick fouls early in the second half, bringing him to four. He would later come back in the game, where his free-throw shooting help kept the Knights in the game. There were several times the Eagles had the lead, only to lose it again.
Poor passing by the Eagles created opportunity for the Knights, and they capitalized on it, switching the momentum more than once. Kamil Gawrzydek of NPCC dunked the ball twice in quick succession in their last rally of the game. Three players from the Knights - Joe Ragland, Chase Grabau, and Rundell Mauge - fouled out. Aaron Hawk-Harris of the Eagles fouled out late in the game.
The final three minutes of the game sealed the deal as CEU managed to make the majority of their shots and take away key rebounds from the Knights. With less than two minutes left to play, the Knights resorted to fouling the Eagles, which only lengthened the lead. The Eagles finally sealed the deal after their lead increased to nine, ultimately leaving with the win.