By Con Marshall BOX SCORE
The season-opener for the Chadron State College men’s basketball team was a barn-burner, but it didn’t turn out the way the Eagles and their fans wanted.
Texas A&M International from Laredo squeezed out an 80-78 in the Chicoine Center in Chadron on Friday night.
A slow start was costly for the Eagles. They made just one of their first six shots and turned the ball over four times in the first five minutes, allowing the Dustdevils to jump out to 12-2 lead. The Texas team led 42-36 at halftime and remained ahead until Chadron State finally caught up at 55-55 with 12 ½ minutes remaining.
There were four lead changes and five ties the rest of the way. The Eagles went ahead 67-62 with 6:10 remaining when senior forward Josh Robinson hit a floater while on the run. But a 3-pointer and two free throws by International’s Mike Rivera soon knotted the score at 67-67 and the Eagles never regained the lead.
With only eight-tenths of a second remaining, the hosts had a chance to take the lead or tie the score, but their shot at the buzzer did not connect.
Both teams put four players in double figures. CSC guard Bryce Latimer scored just two points in the first half, but he made 10 of 13 field goal shots in the second half while finishing with a game-high 24 points. Robinson added 22 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Both Dalton Peterson and Trey Ballard added 11 points for the Eagles.
Guard Matthew Okoye led the Dustdevils with 18 points, Shannon Strickland contributed 13 points and John Achebe and Damian Watson each scored 10.
Each team shot right at 55% from the field, but both were below par at the free throw line. The Eagles were just six of 11 and the Devils only 13 of 21.
Saturday night, the Eagles will host Texas A&M-Kingsville and International will play at South Dakota Mines. Kingsville edged the Hardrockers 54-49 in Rapid City on Friday night.
Texas A&M International—Matthew Okoye 18, Shannon Stickland 13, John Achebe 10, Damian Watson 10, Mike Rivera 9, Jalen Barnes 6, Jeremiah Washington 6, Olaverr Camacho 4, Esteban Roacho 2, Noel Scott 2. Totals: 31-56 (5-20) 13-21 80 points, 29 rebounds, 15 turnovers.
Chadron State—Bryce Latimer 24, Josh Robinson 22, Dalton Peterson 11, Trey Ballard 11, Porter Anderson 6, Jalen Paterson 2, Martin Poznanovic 2. Totals: 34-63 (4-11) 6-11 78 points, 33 rebounds, 17 turnovers.
TA&M Inter. 42 38 —80
Chadron State 36 42 —-78
3-pointers: T&M Int—Strickland 3, Rivera 1, Barnes 1. CSC—Peterson 3, Ballard 1.