PRICE, UTAH – Utah State Eastern women’s basketball opened its home schedule with a win on Friday and Saturday.
Friday night, the Eagles defeated Salt Lake All-Stars 73-55. After a slow first quarter, the Eagles were down 21-16 heading into the second quarter.
Poor shooting by the All-Stars in the second quarter saw the Eagles outscore them 18-5 and take a 34-26 lead at the half.
Sophomore Kaitlin Toluono said with it being the first home game, her team had to overcome some early jitters before settling into the game.
“We had some first home game jitters in the first quarter and then we settled down and kept a good pace throughout the rest of the game,” said Toluono.
In the second half, the Eagles would maintain the lead thanks in part to outrebounded the All-Stars 27-15.
USU Eastern head coach Chelsey Warburton said she told her team before the game that it was key for her team to rebound against the All-Stars.
“They did what we asked them to do and that is big part of why we won,” said Warburton.
Toluono led the Eagles with 16 points and 13 rebounds, picking up her first double-double of the season. The Eagles got a boost off the bench from freshman forward Abby Butler who put in 10 points and eight rebounds.
“That was a great game for Abby. She came up with a couple baskets we needed when they started cutting at the lead,” said Warburton.
Freshmen Alyssa Crumley and Brooklynn Barrus each scored in double figures for the Eagles with 13 points apiece.
Eastern followed up Friday’s win with a 75-57 win over the Laramie County Golden Eagles. The Eagles had another slow start and fell behind to Laramie 15-11 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Eagles took the lead with the help of Crumley’s nine points on 75% field goal shooting.
Against Laramie, the Eagles struggled from both the free throw and three-point line. They shot 55.9% from the free-throw line and 21.7% from three-point territory.
With those low percentages, Warburton said that her team had to go inside to get points against Laramie.
“Our inside game with Alyssa and Kaitlin provided the scoring, they had a hard time stopping our forwards,” said Warburton.
The Eagles had to find other ways to defeat Laramie when the shooting was off according to Toluono.
“When shots weren’t falling, we did other things better and once we did that, we started to have more fun. When we have fun as a team we do better on the floor,” said Toluono.
Crumley led the Eagles in scoring with 24 points while grabbing eight rebounds and a block. Toluono had another double-double for Eagles after she finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds on Saturday.
Warburton said after the game that she was impressed by Toluono’s performance over the weekend.
“A lot of what we do focus on Kaitlin, she does well at both ends of the floor for us. She normally has the hardest defensive assignment and still produces on offense,” said Warburton.
After the weekend of wins, the Eagles record now sits at 3-1 with a week of road games coming up. This week, the Eagles will participate in the Arizona Challenge which takes place in the Phoenix area. They will play three games in three days starting on Wednesday night against Chandler-Gilbert at 6 p.m.
Warburton said that it will be a challenge to play that many teams in a short amount of team but remains optimistic that her team can play well.
“Hopefully we can play well and get a good enough lead to rotate more players in,” said Warburton.
Toluono is confident her team can get wins in Arizona if they control the game early.
“If we dictate our pace and eliminate our slow start, we will be difficult to beat,” said Toluono.
The Eagles will play Glendale on Thursday and South Mountain on Friday night to conclude the Arizona Challenge.
For more information about USU Eastern women’s basketball, check out Utah State Eastern Athletics on Facebook or on Twitter at twitter.com/usueathletics.