SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. – The Eastern Wyoming College men’s basketball team knocked Western Nebraska Community College on its heels early.
The Lancers scored the first six points of Tuesday night’s game against Western Nebraska and never looked back in a 90-63 victory.
“We knew they would come out with a lot of energy, and we tried to match,” EWC coach Tom Andersen said. “We exceeded it. Our kids played extremely well and played well together.”
Sophomores Kaden Toldson and Quincy Taylor provided the early spark, scoring all six points.
It took EWC less than five minutes to build a double-digit lead at 15-5, and it grew throughout the night.
The Lancer defense only surrendered 18 points in the first half, holding WNCC to only 27.6% shooting. EWC poured on 46 points while shooting 38.2% in the first half.
EWC highlighted the first half with a 14-2 run, expanding a 17-8 lead to 31-10 with 7:31 left in the half.
“Our defense was the best we’ve played all year,” Andersen said. “The second half we had to change to stop their big guy by going with a little bit of a zone, but we handled the pressure.”
In the second half, Western Nebraska wasn’t going to go away quietly.
The Cougars used an 11-0 run to cut a 59-32 EWC lead to 59-43 with 11 minutes to play in the game.
“They cut it down a little bit, but we answered. Scottsbluff didn’t fold and went after us. They are a good team,” Andersen said. “We got a little bit flustered with some passes we made. We got careless with the ball, and they got more aggressive.”
It took EWC a little bit of time to adjust, but a 3-pointer by sophomore Nikolas Gustavson with 9:15 remaining in the game slowed the WNCC run as EWC was able to expand the lead once again.
The Lancer lead reached as many as 32 at 87-55 with 2:47 left in the game following a 3-pointer by sophomore Nikola Ivkovic.
EWC shot a blistering 58.6% (17-of-29) from the field, including 54.5% (6-of-11) from 3-point range in the second half.
Th Lancers had four players in double-figures. EWC was led by Taylor with 18, while Toldson and Gustavson had 17 apiece. Freshman Tom Mark added 16 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
“It was a great effort by all our kids that played,” Andersen said. “Everybody did some great things and played unselfish, which is what we have to do. Hopefully, we can continue to get better.”
The win evened the Lancer record at 3-3 on the young season.
EWC 2-1 at
The Lancers picked up a pair of wins in Utah at the Salt Lake Community College Bruin Classic last weekend.
EWC opened the weekend with a 109-40 victory over the Utah Peaks Prep.
Sophomore Herman Melashych led the Lancers with 17 points, while Mark added 14. Taylor had 13, while Ivkovic tossed in 11. As a team, EWC shot 57.7% (41-of-71) in the win.
The next day, Eastern Wyoming played the tournament’s host and the NJCAA No. 1-ranked SLCC Bruins.
Trailing 51-40 at halftime, EWC was held to only 22 points in the second half as Salt Lake pulled away, handing the Lancers a 102-62 loss.
Mark and sophomore Christopher Tsamas led EWC with 13 points each, while Toldson added 12.
In the final game of the weekend, the Lancers knocked off Real Salt Lake Prep 112-82.
EWC held a slim 52-47 advantage at halftime before exploding for 60 points in the second half to pull away for the victory.
Mark led the team with a double-double, recording 24 points and 11 rebounds. Toldson added 22 points, while sophomore Enzo Clouvel Urie also tallied a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists. Melashych and freshman Matthew Veen had 11 and 12, respectively.
Eastern Wyoming opens the home portion of its schedule on Tuesday, Nov. 23 against FE Warren Air Force. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.