NEW ULM - Everything was looking good for the New Ulm boys basketball team Tuesday night.
The Eagles were ahead of Mankato East at halftime and were keeping pace with the defending Section 2AAA champions for most of the second half.
However, poor shooting and turnovers down the final stretch deflated all chances of victory as New Ulm fell by a score of 66-55 in non-conference action.
New Ulm has now started the season 0-3 for a third straight year and first-year head coach Steve Foley admits that if his team doesn't start shooting better, he doesn't see them winning many games.
But he still has faith.
"We have to learn how to take care of the ball," Foley said. "We did some very good things offensively, we had some good shots and we crashed the boards. We just couldn't finish."
It was a very close contest for the entire first half, with East having the biggest lead when it led 18-12 with 7:35 remaining before the Eagles turned into a bunch of thieves.
Four straight steals, three coming from Chris Mulder (eight points, four steals), led to four consecutive baskets and put the Eagles on top 20-18.
Tanner Kluis knocked down a 3-pointer with four minutes to go and Jackson Yackley (10 points) added a floater in the paint to give the Eagles their first halftime lead of the season, 29-25.
The Eagles and Cougars fought back-and-fourth in a very physical second half until everything went south for New Ulm.
Taylor Drahota powered his way into the paint for a lay-up with 9:30 left to cut East's lead to one point, but then the offense went cold and the defense fell apart and the Cougars went on a 23-13 run to take the victory.
"We were in it the whole second half," Foley said. "We just missed shots and had too many turnovers. I think we had 28 or 29 turnovers - that's too many."
East was led in scoring by Brandon Adema with 19 points. Mattu Chuol added 18 and Yasin Omar had 15.