By James Ritchey
Men’s Basketball (10-14, 4-10 CalPac)
10 Feb (Away)
ERAU 75 – 69 Benedictine University at Mesa
A late-game surge pushed the Eagles over the Redhawks in one of their final games of the season after a tumultuous first half marked how equal the two teams were. Neither team held a lead of more than four points, and the lead changed 11 times. By the halftime the Eagles were up 34-32. The second half was a different story, as the Redhawks utilized a good defensive effort to hold back the Eagles. The Eagles soon found themselves down 50-61 with 8:42 left. At that point, ERAU took a timeout, which allowed them to compose themselves and turn the game around. The Eagles proceeded to go on a rampage, scoring 19 unanswered points, including eight straight in a row from Nick Johnson. With only two minutes left, ERAU was up 69-61 and the game had a much different feel. The Redhawks were unable to regain much momentum, and ERAU took the game 75-69. Nick Johnson led the Eagles with 18 points and two assists. Jo Jewell had 13 points, and was 6-6 from the field.
15 Feb (Away)
ERAU 62 – 73 University of Antelope Valley
The Eagles could not recreate their late game push from their previous match in a face-off against the UAV Pioneers. The Eagles quickly fell behind early in the first half, as ERAU was unable to put up an effective defense in the paint. The Pioneers alternated between drives in the paint and shots from beyond the arc, consistently keeping the Eagles behind by about 10 points for most of the first half. Going into halftime down 26-41, ERAU looked to find a solution to the varied UAV offense. Unfortunately, the Eagles never found that solution, finding themselves down as much as 22 points in the second half. With a few minutes left in the game, ERAU was able to make up some of their deficit through close shooting, but their efforts were not enough to stage a full comeback. Nick Johnson finished with 21 points, while Calvin Carmichael put up 14.
17 Feb (Away)
ERAU 75 – 80 La Sierra
The Eagles dropped their final game of the 2017-2018 season to conference foes La Sierra. After starting the game on a 7-0 run, ERAU continued to play a good first half. Gilbert Ibarra hit two consecutive threes, giving the Eagles a 12-point lead five minutes into the game. However, their lead was fleeting, and the last five minutes of the first half saw several lead changes. The Eagles took some momentum into halftime, leading 38-35. After halftime, ERAU sustained their lead and continued to play well on both offense and defense. With 10 minutes remaining in the game, ERAU was ahead 58-49. Shortly after that, LSU mounted a valiant comeback effort, shooting from outside very successfully, and a three tied the game at 62 with 5:44 remaining. At that turning point, ERAU was unable to regain their past momentum, and fell behind LSU in the last few minutes. Nick Johnson again led the Eagles with 17 points and two assists. Calvin Carmichael had 16 points, six assists, and two blocks.
Women’s Basketball (21-5, 11-3 CalPac)
10 Feb (Away)
ERAU 69 – 70 Benedictine University at Mesa
The Eagles broke a nine-game win streak with a frustrating overtime loss to conference rival Benedictine. A back-and-forth first quarter ended with ERAU ahead 14-13. The Eagles then pulled ahead in the second quarter from shooting by Danae Ruiz and Bethany Wolph, going into halftime with a larger 27-19 lead. That momentum carried the Eagles into the third quarter, but with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Redhawks were able to sink five three-pointers to take the lead. Free throws in the final minute of the quarter indicated a high level of competition as the Eagles entered the fourth quarter down 44-47. The Eagles then went on a 9-2 run to start the final quarter and take back the lead. Their good defense allowed them to maintain their lead, and stay a few points ahead of the Redhawks, until a free throw with 16 seconds left in regulation tied the game. A five-minute overtime period played out much like the fourth quarter, as both teams traded the lead, but two free throws in the final seconds of the game gave BU the win. Danae Ruiz led the Eagles with 17 points and three assists.
15 Feb (Away)
ERAU 55 – 59 University of Antelope Valley
ERAU lost another close game late in the season to the Pioneers of UAV, despite already clinching a spot in the conference tournament. After coming to a quick 6-5 lead in the first quarter, UAV went on an 11-0 run for most of the period. ERAU took some offensive strides, but still ended quarter one down 10-18. The Eagles took a running start in the second quarter, coming back and briefly taking a 23-22 lead. Staying within one possession for the remainder of the half, ERAU was only down 27-30 at halftime. UAV hit three three-pointers in a row early in the second half to expand their lead and get some offensive momentum. That momentum picked up, and the Pioneers took a more commanding lead again due to precision shooting. By the end of the quarter, the Eagles had again cut their deficit to 39-42 and were looking forward to a strong fourth quarter. Danae Ruiz tied the game with a three-pointer seconds into the fourth quarter, but the Eagles struggled to maintain their momentum. A good defensive effort held back the UAV offense, but ERAU was not able to regain their shooting touch. Katana Martina had 18 points to lead the Eagles.
17 Feb (Away)
ERAU 71 – 64 La Sierra
Women’s Basketball closed out the regular season with a strong win over La Sierra. The match started off strong with three-pointers from Dane Ruiz and Haley Villegas. Both teams then proceeded to go back and forth for the rest of the first quarter, indicating what would come to be a close game. The second quarter would play out very similarly, neither team holding a lead of more than four points. ERAU went into halftime leading 30-28. The second half saw the game become much more interesting. LSU pulled ahead in the last five minutes of the third quarter, going on a 17-2 run to take a 40-53 lead. Not to be put away in their final game, the Eagles managed to stage an outstanding comeback in the final quarter. Shooting from ERAU’s guards slowly cut down LSU’s lead to a more manageable score differential. A three-pointer from Haley Villegas finally gave the Eagles the lead they worked hard for with 5:25 remaining in the game. More outside shooting and two sets of free throws from Jazlyn Maletino sealed the comeback for the Eagles, who lead 71-64 at the final buzzer. Bethany Wolph, Danae Ruiz, and Haley Villegas combined for 12 threes and 45 points. The Eagles will play next in the CalPac Conference tournament against UC Merced on 25 Feb., in Vallejo, Calif.
17 Feb (Away)
Cascade Collegiate Conference Championships
The Eagles took part in the first Cascade Conference Wrestling Championship tournament, determining which athletes would qualify for the national NAIA tournament. The new format for the national tournament qualifications provided a more traditional, conference-based end-of-season tournament. ERAU had several national qualifiers and top finishers. James Williams made it to the final of the 157-pound weight class, earning the top finish among the Eagles for the tournament. In the 141-pound bracket, freshman David Salazar earned third, winning his final match by 8-6 decision. Taylor Owens also placed third in the 165-pound bracket to qualify for the national tournament, earning a pin in his final match. In the 125-pound matches, Senior Chandler Strand finished fourth, also earning him a spot in the national tournament. The NAIA Wrestling Championship will be held from 2-3 March in Des Moines, Iowa.
17 Feb (Away)
ERAU 2-3, 12-4 Arizona Christian
The Eagles continued their season with a split against Arizona Christian. In the first game, ACU scored two runs in the first inning, putting the Eagles behind early. However, in the third inning, Katey Moore hit a double to score Hannah Deluna and Zoe Streadbeck to tie the game. A defensive battle then ensued, as the two teams remained scoreless and were unable to put up much offense. An ACU walk-off single decided the game. The Eagles’ offensive struggles in game one were reversed in the second game, as a seven-run second inning propelled them ahead. In that second inning, ERAU began with two batters hit by pitches and one single to load the bases with no outs. Bailey Critchlow, Katey Moore, and Zoe Streadbeck all had two RBI in the second inning alone. After some more offense in later innings, the Firestorm had no chance of coming back. Critchlow ended the second game with five RBI.
19 Feb (Away)
ERAU 8-7, 4-2 Corban University
The Eagles came out on top of two close games with fifth-ranked Corban University. In game one, ERAU scored five runs in the first two innings, pushing them into a sizeable lead. Corban came back somewhat, scoring three in the third inning and one in the seventh. Despite that one run in the seventh cutting ERAU’s lead to just one, Olivia Ramos’s pitching made sure the Eagles came out with a win. Bailey Critchlow went four for four and had four RBIs in the match. In game two, it was Critchlow who took the mound for all seven innings, holding down an ERAU defense that only allowed two runs, despite allowing nine hits. In the third inning, the Eagles put up four hits and earned three runs, again enabling them to take a decisive lead. The ensuing pitching battle left both teams struggling to get on base, and the Eagles were able to maintain their lead until the game’s end.
Arizona Christian Spring Invite, Phoenix, AZ
The Men’s Golf team traveled down to the Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, Ariz., to participate in the Arizona Christian Spring Invite. The tournament took place over two days, with each team consisting of five players and each golfer playing three rounds. ERAU’s team score of 893 placed them sixth overall out of 14 teams. Senior Matt Andrews tied for first overall, earning an outstanding -7 score of 209. Kyle Peterson followed, earning a 224 to place 22 overall.
16 Feb (Away)
Both the Men’s and Women’s distance track teams started their seasons in Flagstaff at the NAU tune-up. The Eagles competed in the mile and 3,000 meter events, allowing traditional Cross Country athletes to maintain their skills in their off-season. In the Men’s 3,000 meter race, freshman Nicholas Hernandez led the Eagles with a seventh-overall time of 9:27. Nicholas Kroeze took tenth place overall with a time of 9:39. In the Men’s mile race, four ERAU runners finished consecutively. Matthew Siegal, Nicholas Hernandez, Jordan Bramblett, and Vincent Arminio took the 12-15 finishes, with Siegal’s leading time of 4:40. In the Women’s races, ERAU also placed well to start the season. In the mile race, Keili Dorn took sixth overall with a time of 5:32. Dorn also competed in the 3,000 meter race and took first overall with a time 11:18. Emma Lewis followed her, with her 11:31 time placing her in second.