After a 5-0 start to the year, the South Alabama Jaguars have fallen back down to Earth a bit.
Entering play on Tuesday night against the Denver Pioneers, the Jaguars were riding a mini two-game losing streak, and had lost three of their previous four games.
As for Denver, the Pioneers came into Tuesday night with a 2-2 record on their current five-game road swing, and a 4-5 record overall. They were looking to return home with a .500 record, and a win over the Jaguars would be another notable win for the Pioneers, who knocked off the Air Force Falcons in their last outing.
South Alabama took a lead late in the first half, thanks to a three point play from Georgi Boyanov, and the Jaguars took a 26-22 advantage into the locker room.
In the second half, however, it was all about Denver.
One thing that the Denver Pioneers have been lacking early in the 2016-17 season is consistency.
They have looked impressive in their two wins over the San Jose State Spartans and the Sacramento State Hornets, but they were unable to build off those wins and string together consecutive victories. In fairness, all four of their losses have been by 12 points or less.
Denver has been competitive, but have come out on the losing end more times than not.
On Saturday, the Pioneers had an opportunity to notch a big road win, as they took on the Weber State Wildcats. Led by Jeremy Senglin, the Wildcats have also struggled out of the gate, and both teams entered Saturday’s tilt with matching 2-4 records.
To open the first half, Weber State went on a 14-4 run over the first seven-plus minutes, and it looked as though they would be in firm control as the game progressed. Denver fought their way back, and it was a back-and-forth affair that came right down to the wire.
With 12 seconds showing on the clock, and the game tied at 55-all, Denver sophomore Joe Rosga rose to the occasion. He hit a jumper to give the Pioneers a two-point lead, 57-55. The Wildcats had one last chance to tie or win the game, but Senglin’s three point attempt was off the mark.
Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, the Eastern Washington Eagles played host to the EWU Classic. Joining the Eagles in Cheney, WA were the Denver Pioneers, Sacramento State Hornets, and the San Francisco Dons.
Saturday’s action saw the Eagles take down the Pioneers, 85-80, and the Dons push their record to a perfect 4-0 on the year with a 77-59 win over the Hornets,
On Sunday, the Eagles and Dons square off in the night cap of the event, while the Pioneers and Hornets did battle as both teams looked to head home with a 1-1 record in the event.
The first half was all about the Hornets, as they opened up a 16-point lead with under six minutes to play in the opening half. Denver cut the lead down to six at halftime, and the momentum was squarely on their side.
Thanks to timely free throw shooting down the stretch, the Pioneers were able to overcome their slow start, and hold off Sacramento State down the stretch.
On Wednesday night, it was a tale of two halves in Denver, CO for both the Utah Valley Wolverines and the Denver Pioneers.
The first half was all about the Pioneers, as they were able to take a 21-point lead into halftime, at 54-33. In the second half, it was all about the comeback for the Wolverines.
Utah Valley began chipping away from start of the second half, and took a lead of their own with just 3:58 left in the game.
After a missed three pointer from Brandon Randolph that would have all but sealed the game for the Wolverines, Isaac Neilson grabbed the offensive rebound, forcing Denver to foul. Jordan Poydras hit both free throws, putting the Wolverines up by four with nine seconds on the clock.
Over the first two games of the 2016-17 season, sophomore guard Joe Rosga has proven why he is one of the top players in the Summit League, and has shown everyone why we picked him as a First Team All-Summit League member before the season kicked off.
In the season opener for the Denver Pioneers, Rosga put up 30 points in their 92-84 loss to the Jacksonville Dolphins.
On Thursday, he was looking to follow that up with another big performance as the Pioneers searched for their first win of the 2016-17 season. They went on the road to take on the San Jose State Spartans, who split their first two games, but entered Thursday night’s tilt coming off a loss to the Portland Pilots.
It was a quieter night on the scoreboard for Rosga, as he recorded 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the floor. But, it was a well-balanced attack for Denver as a whole.
Three players scored in double-figures, including Rosga, and Thomas Neff hit a pair of free throws late in the game to seal the deal for the Pioneers.