Nevada makes three-pointer with 4.3 seconds to play as Eastern starts stretch of four road games in seven days
In a game that featured 15 ties and seven lead changes, one shot with 4.3 seconds left determined the winner.
Nevada's Brandon Fields nailed a three-pointer with 4.3 seconds to play to defeat Eastern Washington University 73-70 Thursday (Dec. 17) in Reno, Nev., as the Eagles began a stretch of four games in a span of just seven days.
Freshman guard Glen Dean missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer as the Eagles fell to 4-6 for the season. Eastern missed four of its last five shots, including three with the game knotted at 70, as Nevada improved to 5-4. It was EWU's third loss this season against a Western Athletic Conference opponent.
Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine was disappointed with Eastern's defense on the game-winning shot, as well as EWU's possession just before that that yielded a pair of misses.
"We had one offensive possession and one defense possession with the game tied, and we didn't execute as well as we should have on either end of the floor in those situations," he explained.
"We switched to man-to-man to make sure we didn't lose somebody, and lo and behold, we lose a guy and he gets a wide-open three. We just can't make those mistakes in games like this or you get beat. That's what happened tonight. We were significantly better (than against WAC opponents Idaho and Boise State), but that's of very little consolation to me right now."
Fields, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, had missed his last five three-pointers until making his game-winner. Nevada's Luke Babbitt, who entered the game averaging 18.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, made 10-of-18 shots to finish with 29 points and nine rebounds.
Dean finished with a double-double for the Eagles with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and had 10 assists with only two turnovers. He equaled the 14th-best recorded assists total in school history, and was the most since Rodney Stuckey had 10 versus Idaho State on Feb. 22, 2007.
"I couldn't ask for anything more from Glen Dean -- I thought he was spectacular," said Earlywine of the 2008 graduate of Seattle's Roosevelt High School. "Other than Babbitt, I thought he was the best player on the floor. Glen was terrific tonight."
Freshman Kevin Winford added 14 points, hitting four three-pointers in the second half as he made 5-of-8 shots from the field. Senior forward Mark Dunn, who scored EWU's first six points of the game, finished with 15 points and a team-high five rebounds.
Although the Eagles were out-rebounded 33-29 and had 12 turnovers to Nevada's nine, Earlywine was pleased with the improved performance against the WAC foe. Eastern lost to Idaho by 22 points and Boise State by 13.
"We were using Idaho and Boise State as a measuring stick for tonight," he said. "We played significantly better tonight than we did in those games. But I told our players that we have 15 league games left, and I expect about 10 of them to be one-possession games. How you handle those late-game situations will determine to a large degree whether you win or lose. The difference between winning and losing these types of games is so minimal that every mistake is magnified."
The first half included 13 ties and seven lead changes, but in the second half Nevada used a 6-0 run to take a 46-39 lead. The Eagles pulled to within 54-53, but a 7-0 run gave the Wolf Pack a 61-53 advantage with 6:21 remaining.
The Eagles battled back behind Winford's hot shooting, and knotted it at 66 on his trey with just under four minutes left. Eastern tied it again at 70 on a three-pointer by Benny Valentine with 1:20 to play.
Nevada is coached by former Eastern assistant David Carter, who is 5-4 in his first season at the helm. Carter served two seasons under Steve Aggers at EWU in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons, a pair of rebuilding years in which Eastern finished 3-23 overall and 0-14 in the Big Sky Conference the first year, and 7-19/3-13 the second. The 1989 Saint Mary's graduate scored six points and had four assists in a 76-56 win over Eastern on Dec. 19, 1988.
Eastern, which was coming off a 100-97 home victory in overtime over Seattle University last Saturday (Dec. 12), next faces perhaps its sternest test of the season when it plays at Mountain West Conference foe Brigham Young on Saturday (Dec. 19). Tipoff at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, is 6 p.m. Pacific time with the Cougars entering the game 9-1 following a 77-61 win over Wagner Thursday.
Eastern closes the difficult road stretch -- and its pre-Christmas schedule -- with two games at the Hoop TV Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena (Dec. 22-23). Eastern will take on Chicago State in a night game on Dec. 22, then turnaround less than 24 hours later and play an afternoon game versus either Wagner or Jackson State. Both games will be available via webcast at http://www.hooptv.net.
Following a short Christmas break, the Eagles play at nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Dec. 28 before hosting Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference game on Dec. 31 at 3:05 p.m.
Eastern faced a grueling early-season schedule with eight games in a 22-day span. The Eagles then had a week off for fall quarter final exams at EWU before facing the full-court pressure of a very athletic and talented Seattle University team. Despite playing with four freshmen at times in their lineup, the Eagles had just 15 turnovers in the game and used a 7-0 run in overtime to prevail 100-97.