Although Utah State University-Eastern (USU-E) is ranked an outstanding No. 11 in the country, the Salt Lake Community College men’s basketball team proved why that spot should be theirs when they dismantled the eagles 90-74 on Jan. 11.
Leading off the game, the Bruins immediately get the ball to their well-rounded 6-foot-11 center Neil Monson, who converts a post move from the block. Setting the tone for how they are going to approach the game. Monson leads all scorers with a staggering 26 points and seven boards.
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“We were able to get me the ball in spots where I can be successful. Coach Phillips has worked a lot on throwing the ball into the post, and my teammates did a great job in finding me and making my job easier,” says Monson.
The Bruins establish a very aggressive play style early by knocking down open shots and attacking the basket strong.
Around three minutes into the game, SLCC was up 7-2, partially due to the quick 5 points that 6-foot-6 freshman guard De’Sean Parsons dropped. First hitting an open 3-pointer and then slithering his way into the lane for a tough layup.
Parsons finishes with a double-double scoring 26 points and snatching 10 rebounds.
The assault doesn’t stop there. Sophomore shooting specialist Jaden Jackson chimes in with his first bucket sparking a fire and putting SLCC up 11-4 with approximately 15 minutes left in the first half. Jackson finishes with 15 points and two assists.
“I honestly felt good in warm ups, and I try to think I’ll always be on, but after my second jump shot went down I knew I was locked in,” says Jackson.
In the first half, USU-E does everything in their power to stick close to the Bruin’s brutal attack; however, their shots just aren’t falling.
SLCC takes advantage of most of their opportunities but slips up slightly around the 6-minute mark. When the Golden Eagles try to make their comeback, bringing the score within 5 at score 26-21, the score never looks like that again; the Bruins regroup and strike again.
Gary Payton II goes into beast mode and snatches 10 rebounds, while strategically dishing out an amazing 14 assists and adding 9 points.
“I just try to make everyone around me better and bring energy to the team, and me doing a lot of everything makes it easier for the other guys,” says Payton.
During the midway point in the second half is when the game took a turn for the better. SLCC begins to play a fluid style fueled by energy and excitement.
Jackson drains 3-point shots, and Monson doesn’t let up from muscling around the block. At 265 pounds, he’s hard to contain when he gets the right position.
With 14 minutes on the clock, guard Parsons gets out on a fast break and throws down a monstrous dunk on No. 44 for the Golden Eagles Teotonio Do; the crowd erupts, and the Bruins are ecstatic.
There was no way the Golden Eagles could slow the Bruins down; they prepared to play the Eagles properly and then executed resulting in a defined victory.
“We packed in our defense to prevent drives and were aware of their shooters, so we made it really tough for them to score. We are a defense oriented team and play at a different pace than most [junior college] teams, so that definitely upset their rhythm. We also shared the ball really well and took advantage of the opportunities that we had,” says Monson.