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Womens basketball sweeps Arizona Challenge

Utah State Eastern women’s basketball picked up three wins during the Arizona Challenge last week.
The Eagles opened the Challenge with a lopsided win against Chandler-Gibert by a score of 85-34 on Wednesday.
Sophomore guard Madison Loftus led the Eagles in scoring with 14 points while shooting 4-7 from three point territory. 
Freshmen Alyssa Crumly and Brooklynn Barrus each added 11 points in the win.
Following the win on Wednesday, the next day the Eagles defeated Glendale 56-44.
Loftus shot 75 % from behind the three point line and finished with 12 points.
USU Eastern Head Coach Chelsey Warburton said she hopes Loftus’ shooting performance in Arizona was something that will give her a boost throughout the rest of the season.
“It was great for her confidence to shoot well now to carry it over the rest of the season,” said Warburton.
According to Loftus, her mentality entering the week is what made the difference in her shooting.
“I made a goal to mentally be there in the game and it helped me with my confidence in shooting,” said Loftus.
Providing a spark off the bench, freshman forward Abby Butler added 8 points and five rebounds in 12 minutes of play.
The Eagles capped off their week on Friday night with a 90-63 win against South Mountain.
Warburton said this year Loftus is surrounded by more shooters and an improved surrounding cast. 
Against South Mountain, that statement became evident. All five starters against South Mountain scored in double figures led by Loftus’ 22 points.
Barrus and Crumley had 15 points each and sophomore forward Kaitlin Toluono had 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Sophomore point guard Rashel Blazzard finished with 10 points, two steals, two rebounds and two assists against South Mountain.
One of the highlights of the week for the Eagles was the play of sophomore guard Harlee Willoughby who did a little bit of everything coming off the bench.
“She is distributing the wall well and helping us get set. She did well for us and helped us coming off the bench,” said Warburton.
Willoughby finished the week averaging 8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 3.3 assists while averaging 22 minutes a night off the bench.
That stat line helped the starting back court of Barrus and Loftus feel less pressure in Arizona especially playing three games in three days.
“It was a big help for us, she helped take pressure off of us and she can handle the ball well,” said Loftus.
This week the Eagles will travel for the Thanksgiving Classic in Salt Lake City for games against Western Nebraska on Friday and Casper College on Saturday.
Although the Eagles now have a record of 6-1, they will have to be ready during the short week of practices and having two tough opponents this weekend according to Warburton.
“Offensively we have to continue to move and share the ball. Defensively we need to follow the game plan and play harder than the other team,” said Warburton.
Loftus believes her team can pick up the wins this weekend if the come mentally prepared.
“We need to just focus on one game at a time. A big thing for us is to be mentally ready as a team because we have the skill set and when we are mentally ready, we play better,” said Loftus.
The Eagles are looking to continue their best start as a team in three years. In 2014-2015, the Eagles started the season 8-1 in former head coach Dave Paur’s final season at the helm.
Both games this weekend will be live streamed on ksl.com and updates will be provided through Utah State Eastern Facebook and Twitter.

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