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Press gave Eagles late-season surge

SHARE Press gave Eagles late-season surge

Injuries to a couple of his best players forced College of Eastern Utah women's coach Dave Paur to make a major midseason change.

The Golden Eagles opened the season without its top player, Elisha Harris, due to an injury, and they posted a lackluster 2-4 record during her six-game absence. When Harris returned, CEU won six consecutive contests.

Later, point guard Jenny Fiso broke her arm and missed eight games. Without her, the Golden Eagles went 1-7.

When Fiso returned to the lineup, Paur employed a different strategy — full-court pressing opponents after either a made or missed field goal. It's something Paur's teams usually do, but prior to the season, he decided to slow the game down. He found it difficult for his team to compete in half-court games and returned to his traditional style.

"We hesitated to do it. I didn't think we had the quickness to do it," Paur explained. "But the players bought into what we were doing. We tried to hurry up the game and get transition baskets."

The move proved to be a wise one as CEU overcame a rough start and finished with a 16-16 record overall.

"We finished strong, fourth in the league," Paur said. "(The decision to press) turned our season around. It salvaged our season. This team could have finished with eight wins."

CEU earned a Scenic West Athletic Conference Tournament win over Snow College, then ended its season with a loss to Salt Lake Community College, which defeated College of Southern Idaho to go to the national tournament.

While Paur loses all five starters from last year's team, including Harris and Fiso, he is optimistic about next season.

"For next year, we recruited players that fit that type of philosophy, to press," he said. "At CEU, we're going to push the ball hard and press the entire 40 minutes."

Paur has 11 players on his roster for next season, but he is not done hitting the recruiting trail.

"We're looking for a dominant point guard," Paur said. "We'll have to expand our horizons beyond Utah and Idaho, which is where we usually recruit our players."

CEU women's leaders

Points per game:

Elisha Harris, 14.6

Haley Rogers, 7.9

Rebounds per game:

Staci Little, 8.6

Elisha Harris, 4.3

Assists per game:

Jenny Fiso, 3.32

Halee Rasmussen, 2.3

Steals per game:

Jenny Fiso, 2.3

Elisha Harris, 2.2