Eastern Wyoming men fend off Western Nebraska

EWC faces North Platte, McCook this weekend

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. – The Eastern Wyoming College men’s basketball team fended off a late charge by the Western Nebraska Community College Cougars last Tuesday in an 83-81 victory.

With 1:14 left in the game, freshman Atte Vuoristo knocked down the second of his two 3-pointers, giving the visiting Lancers a 79-73 lead.

Thirty seconds later, the Cougars answered with a 3-pointer to draw back within two at 80-78.

Sophomore Marko Krtinic pushed the EWC advantage back to five with a field goal with 18 seconds left in the game, but WNCC cut the lead back to two with only 11.5 seconds left in the game.

The Cougars fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, sending Vuoristo to the free-throw line for two shots. He hit one of the two, leaving a window of hope for the home team with EWC leading 83-80.

EWC used a timeout and fouled on the inbounds pass to prevent the Cougars from attempting a 3-pointer. Western Nebraska went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 8.7 seconds left in the game.

Over the final eight seconds, each team got one more shot attempt off with neither going through the net. WNCC got its final attempt off as time expired, but the 3-pointer bounced off the back of the rim, securing the two-point victory for the Lancers.

However, early in the game, the Cougars looked to put Eastern Wyoming away.

Western Nebraska scored the game’s first seven points before sophomore forward Seal Osajivbe put EWC on the scoreboard nearly three minutes into the game.

Three minutes later, Osajivbe gave the Lancers their first lead of the game at 10-9 with 14:55 left in the opening half.

It was part of a 16-2 run over a four-minute span.

It was a lead EWC held for much of the half, but with 4:35 left in the first half, Western Nebraska regained the lead at 32-31.

The Cougar lead lasted for just more than a minute before Krtinic put the Lancers back on top 35-34. It was a lead which the visitors held for the remainder of the game.

In the closing seconds of the half, EWC pushed its lead to eight at 42-35.

Krtinic led the team with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Osajivbe tallied a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman John Barbee added 16 points and three steals, while Vuoristo had 15 points.

As team, the Lancers shot 54.4% (31-of-57) from the floor, and EWC outrebounded Western Nebraska 39-30.

It was the fourth win of the season for Eastern Wyoming, as the team improved to 4-6 on the season.

They travel to North Platte Community College on Friday, Dec. 2 for a 6 p.m. tip off and to McCook Community College on Saturday, Dec. 3 for a 3 p.m. contest. It will be the second meeting between the two teams as EWC fell to North Platte 90-77 and to McCook 88-64 back in early November.