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(Neb)-Team Effort Brings Eagles Victory

By: John Axtell Posted at: 12/31/2016 11:16 PM
Caleb Center, CSC Sports Information Director
CHADRON, Neb.  –
The Chadron State College men's basketball team (2-10, 2-6 RMAC) ended 2016 on a good note, forcing 20 turnovers to engineer a 66-58 win over Adams State University (5-9, 2-6 RMAC) on Saturday evening at the Chicoine Center.
 
The Eagles, who have lost three key players to injury recently, accomplished their second win of the season with only seven players. Nevertheless, some younger players stepped up and had career games in the win.
 
"I'm happy for our guys," said head men's basketball coach Houston Reed. "We've lost some games, but these guys haven't stopped working, they haven't stopped being a team, and when you do the right things, you get rewarded. This is rewarding."
 
Ten lead changes and eight tied scores tell the story of this closely contested matchup, where CSC held an advantage of more than two possessions for less than one minute total out of 40.
 
The Eagles went inside to forward Michael Johnson early in the game, getting him two quick buckets before stretching the defense with three-point shooting. CSC shooters Leigh Saffin and Vonsinh Sayaloune went on a 4-for-7 tear which built the Chadron State lead to a first-half high of seven, trading three points for two with the Grizzlies.
 
ASU showed resilience in keeping the game close, and went on to tie it three times in the last five minutes of the half, while never regaining the lead. Saffin drained a three-pointer with six seconds until halftime, which sent CSC into the locker room up 32-29.
 
The Grizzlies' shooting warmed up coming out of the break, however Warren Gordon, who had 12 of his 15 points in the second half, provided an answer whenever the visitors seemed to grab momentum. Between he and Johnson, who was 3-of 4 from the field to begin the second frame, the pair sank the first six field goals, all on short and mid-range jumpers.
 
Down the stretch, Johnson finished even better than he started, grabbing several defensive rebounds and following up with free throws. He finished with game-highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds for his first career double-double.
 
"We come into shootaround this morning," said Reed, "after Mikey [Johnson] got 15 points last night in a loss, and the first thing he asks me today is 'how can I get better'. He's having success simply because he works at it. He comes in at 7:45 for a 9 a.m. practice to put work in. He's only going to get better."
 
Along the way, Chadron native Sayaloune made several spectacular defensive plays, diving for loose balls or jumping out of bounds to save possessions. He earned every one of the 38 minutes he played on the evening.
 
"Vonsinh Sayaloune was a guy who made some effort plays that turned into point production for us," said Reed, "and that bled onto other players making hustle plays too."
 
True freshman Johnson (18 points), redshirt freshman Sayaloune (11 points), and redshirt sophomore Leigh Saffin (12 points) all had season-highs in points. Saffin's equaled his freshman best for a career-high. Jordan Perry contributed all five of his points at the free-throw line, going 5-of-6, while grabbing seven boards.
 
ASU's Shane Johnson led his team with 15 points, while Brandon Sly went for 10 points and 10 rebounds.


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