The men’s basketball program at Chadron State College got off to a great start on Friday evening at the Chicoine Center in Chadron. The Eagles shot consistently near 40 percent from three-point range and over 50 percent from inside to come back from down seven with nine minutes to play, winning 66-60 over Westminster College on opening night.
In only 19 minutes, junior forward Jacob Jefferson shot 8-of-10 from the field, and 2-for-4 from the three-point arc, to take top honors for the night in scoring with 18 points. Three others – senior Brady Delimont, and juniors Marcus Jefferson and Teddy Parham, Jr. – also finished in double digits with 11 apiece.
CSC’s shot selection put them over the top in the game. Though the Griffins had two more total attempts from the floor, and two more makes, the Eagles’ 11 to 3 three-pointer advantage on the outside made up more than the difference in the game.
The contest was never in the bag for the Eagles, however.
Westminster hit the first three field goals of the game to go up 6-0. After that, CSC hit four of its next five shots from close range, and junior Kayden Sund gave the team its first lead with his only three-pointer of the game at 14:39, putting Chadron State ahead 11-9.
CSC led by as many as eight, which was the biggest lead by either side, when KJ Harris sank a trey with 4:22 remaining in the first half to make it 28-20.
Jacob Jefferson punctuated the first half with the final basket, from inside the paint, giving the Eagles a 34-30 halftime lead.
In the second half, Westminster took control early and held onto a lead for around 16 minutes. The peak of the Griffins’ authority came at 11:02 in the second half on a Ryan Bell slam dunk, putting them up 47-40 with 11 minutes left in the game.
Nevertheless, CSC chipped away at the Westminster lead, starting at around the nine-minute mark, when it began a 16-4 run. That spree included a 4-of-7 streak from three-point range, with Delimont, Harris, and both Jeffersons contributing. Delimont put the Eagles ahead for good with a pair of free throws.
Delimont led the Eagles at the line with 5-for-6 shooting.
Junior forward Deion Rhea, who benefited from Jacob Jefferson’s frequent foul trouble, led CSC with seven rebounds, all on defense. He added five points by making his only field goal and going 3-for-6 from the foul line.
Westminster doubled up the Eagles with 40 points in the paint, compared with 20 for Chadron State. The Griffins got nearly all of their scoring inside from guard play, as starting forward Brandon Willardson was held to just five points and junior big man Brian Howell went out early with an apparent injury and scored only once.
The Griffins were led in both scoring and rebounding by Joey Andrews, who scored 13 points and grabbed 16 boards.
CSC returns to the court on Saturday hosting Colorado Mesa University, who was victorious Friday 75-70 over Black Hills State in Spearfish, South Dakota. The men’s game follows the CSC women’s at 5:30 p.m.