Playing without their team leader and only senior, Darius Polley, the Chadron State men’s basketball team kept things close, but fell to Texas A&M International 72-64 here Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Chadron State coach Houston Reed said Polley, the Eagles’ top scorer last season, sustained a back injury in practice on Thursday shortly after the Eagles arrived in south Texas for the first of two games during a “conference challenge” this weekend.
“He tried to play but couldn’t, so we had to go a lot of pups,” Reed said. “They played hard, but it took us a while to get settled in and we came away a little short.”
The Eagles shot just 25 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 30-24 at halftime. They improved to 48 percent in the second half, when the Dust Devils outscored them only 42-40.
For the game, the Texas team shot 47.2 percent (25-53) from the field, including 12 of 26 from 3-point range, and Chadron State hit 38.2 percent (15-31), including 8 of 24 from behind the arc.
Seniors Jeremy Wright and Dan Milota, the only returning members of last year’s International team, paced the Dust Devils with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Xabier Gomez and Chris McDonald each added 11.
Freshman Dru Kuxhausen led Chadron State with 14 points, followed by transfers Jordan Mills with 13 and Jaisean Jackson with 12. Sophomore Michael Johnson added eight points and shared game rebounding honors with teammate Leigh Saffin with eight apiece.
The Eagles outrebounded International 41-33.
Chadron State will play at Texas A&M-Kingsville today (Saturday) at 1 p.m.
Chadron State 24 40 —-64
Texas A&M Int. 30 42 —-72
Chadron State—Dru Kuxhausen 14, Jordan Mills 13, Jaisen Jackson 12, Michael Johnson 8, Leigh Saffin 6, Jeremy Ruffin 5, Vonsinh Sayaloune 4, Walker Andrew 2. Totals: 21-55 (8-24) 14-21 64 points, 41 rebounds, 15 turnovers.
Texas A&M International—Jeremy Wright 16, Dan Milota 15, Xabier Gomez 11, Chris McDonald 11, Kamari Robinson 7, Shea Garland 6, Danny Spinuzza 3, Marek Hajek 3. Totals: 25-53 (12-26) 10-15 72 points, 33 rebounds, 14 turnovers.