STERLING, Colo. – The first half proved to be the difference Thursday, with the Eastern Wyoming College Lancers falling behind early and failing to mount a comeback, losing on the road against Northeastern Junior College.
“They got us into a slow-paced ball game,” coach Neal Sherbeyn said. “They took the air out of the ball and we just played their style of ball.”
The Lancers scored the first bucket on a three-pointer by Alek Cosic and they kept the Plainsmen scoreless for more than two minutes of action. After seeing their first bucket go through, the home team rushed out to an 11-3 lead five minutes into the contest. At the midway point in the half, NJC built a 21-8 lead before EWC brought it to within five (21-16). The Plainsmen closed out the half on a 16-5 run to hold a 37-21 lead at the break.
In the first frame, EWC shot only 26 percent from the field, 10 percent from behind the arc and 57 percent from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, NJC posted a 49 percent shooting percentage from the floor in the first half.
Returning to the floor, the Lancers trimmed the Plainsman lead to 10 on multiple occasions, with another Cosic three-pointer cutting the advantage to 41-34. With 10:01 left in the second quarter, NJC had a 63-43 lead and it continued on its run, growing a 70-44 advantage. The closest EWC got closing out the game was 15 points (78-63), but it eventually fell 83-66. Sherbeyn inserted his bench players to close out the game.
“The last seven minutes of that ball game we started playing with a lot more energy,” Sherbeyn said. “I was real happy with some of the second-string guys. They played very well, like Brandon Meadows and Chad Hinrichs.”
In the second half, EWC was only outscored 46-45, but the first-half deficit was too much to climb. The Lancers’ shooting percentage jumped up to 50 percent in the second half and 43 percent from behind the arc.
Walker Korell led the starters in scoring, racking up 12 points, including six from behind the arc. He also had four boards on the night. Cosic was the second starter in double-figures, kicking in 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Meadows made significant contributions off the bench, racking up 12 points, four rebounds, an assist, three steals and two blocks. Daniel Wright and Rhythm Ajanku both came off the bench, adding eight points apiece. Ajanku led the team with six assists, while he and Wright combined for six boards. Hinrichs came off the bench and added four points and three boards.
Rounding out the starters, Nick Holmes and Jonathan Morrobel each chipped in four points. Morrobel finished the night with five rebounds, while Holmes and Trey Schroefel combined for six rebounds and five assists.
The Lancers were scheduled to play Fort Carson on the road Saturday, but the game was canceled. EWC currently sits at 1-8 on the season. The Lancers have a short road trip to Scottsbluff, Neb. on Saturday, playing Western Nebraska Community College at 7:30 p.m. in the Cougar Palace.
“We just need to be able to play our game,” Sherbeyn said of the rivalry matchup. “They’re a very athletic team and we need to handle their press. It’ll come down to us being able to hold on to the ball.”