Eastern Defeats Montana State Again, 74-69

Eagles snap seven-game losing streak, with Montana visiting Cheney Sunday at 1 p.m.

Box Score 

The remedy was the same.

The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team snapped a seven-game losing streak by defeating Montana State 74-69 in a Big Sky Conference game Friday (Feb. 12) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Freshman Glen Dean scored seven of his 12 points in the final 1:06 as the Eagles improved to 3-8 in league play and 7-18 overall. Until Friday's victory, Eastern hadn't won in more than a month since beating Montana State 75-73 on Jan. 10 on a shot with 3.8 seconds left by Dean.

The Bobcats fell to 7-6 in the Big Sky and 12-12 overall.

"I'm extraordinarily proud -- more than any game this year," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "We were able to make plays down the stretch to win the game. I thought that showed unbelievable wherewithal by our team tonight."

Eastern next plays Sunday (Feb. 14) against Montana at 1:05 p.m. Pacific time in a game televised on Altitude Sports and Entertainment. It will also be broadcast via radio in the Spokane area on 1510am and may be viewed via the internet at www.bigskytv.org.

Five Eagles scored in double figures, led by the 19 of freshman Kevin Winford, who made all six of his free throws. Dean made 7-of-8 as the Eagles finished 20-of-22 as a team.

A third freshman, Jeffrey Forbes, added 17 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists. Brandon Moore chipped in 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Mark Dunn added 10 points. Dean also had four assists and four rebounds despite making only 2-of-9 shots from the field.

"Glen didn't have his best game, but down the stretch I felt perfectly comfortable putting the ball in his hands," Earlywine said. "It wasn't necessarily so he could hit a shot, but I felt pretty comfortable he would make the right decisions and right plays."

Senior Benny Valentine sparked the Eagles with five points, four assists and a steal.

"It probably wasn't the best game Benny Valentine has played at Eastern, but I thought he showed more character tonight than in any game this year," praised Earlywine. "He had four assists and didn't force plays -- he was outstanding."

Eastern had 15 turnovers to just eight by the Bobcats, but the Eagles out-shot MSU 42 percent to 39 percent. Eastern made 54 percent of its shots in the second half.

The Eagles jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead and led 14-5 just 5:41 into the game. But the Eagles went cold and didn't score for the next 6 1/2 minutes as MSU went on an 8-0 run. The Bobcats eventually led by as many as five before leading 32-28 at halftime.

Eastern made just 32 perc ent of its shots in the first half, including only 3-of-12 three-pointers.

The game was tied at 42 before Eastern went on a 10-0 run and eventually led by as many as 12. But a 16-1 Montana State run gave the Bobcats a 60-56 lead with 5:05 to play.

But a three-pointer by Winford and a basket by Forbes helped Eastern regain the lead, and Dean's three-pointer with 44 seconds left gave EWU the lead for good. Valentine, Dean and Forbes each made a pair of free throws in the final 28 seconds to clinch the win.

Montana is coming off a 81-74 victory over Portland State on Friday, and has won its last five games and eight of its last nine after a 1-3 start. Now 9-4 in the league and 18-7 overall, the Grizzlies began that current run with a 79-66 victory over the Eagles on Jan. 8 in Missoula. In that game, Eastern had 22 turnovers to just seven for the Grizzlies. It was the largest turnover margin of the season for EWU, which allowed Montana to score 32 points off those miscues.

Two days later, Eastern registered a huge 75-73 victory over the Bobcats in Bozeman when freshman Glen Dean made a driving layup with 3.8 seconds remaining.

Following this week's games, Eastern plays its final road games of the season at Northern Colorado on Feb. 18 and Northern Arizona on Feb. 20. The regular season ends for the Eagles with home games against league-leader Weber State on Feb. 26 and Idaho State the next night.

The Eagles entered Friday's game having already equaled the school's longest losing streak since 2004-05 when that squad lost seven-straight early in the year. The last time EWU has had a longer losing skid came in 1996-97 when the Eagles lost 11-straight league games and went from Jan. 11 to Feb. 27 between victories.


EWU-UM Series History (Since 1983-84): Eastern has lost the last six meetings and 12 of the last 13, with the lone victory in that stretch coming on Dec. 30, 2006, in Cheney when the Eagles beat the Grizzlies 74-71. Eastern is 15-40 against the Grizzlies since 1983-84, including a 7-21 record in Missoula, 8-17 in Cheney and 0-2 on neutral courts versus the Grizzlies. Montana leads the series overall 57-36.

Earlier this season, the Eagles fell at Montana 79-66. Eastern lost in 2008-09 by scores of 63-50 at home and 60-52 on the road, and lost in the 2007-08 season 80-61 in Missoula and 59-57 in Cheney. The two teams split in the 2006-07 season.

In the 2005-06 season, Montana swept the Eagles in three games -- 78-72 in Missoula, 68-46 in Cheney and 73-71 in overtime in the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Flagstaff, Ariz. In both regular season meetings that season, Eastern had leads before succumbing to Montana second-half comebacks. In the overtime loss, Eastern trailed by 14 before a late 10-0 run put Eastern back into the game. But Eagle freshman Rodney Stuckey missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer to end regulation. Montana then went on a 6-0 run in overtime to end Eastern's season.

Prior the six-game losing streak that Eastern ended on Dec. 30, 2006, Eastern had won 10 of the previous 14 meetings including regular season sweeps three-straight conference seasons from 2001-03. However, the Grizzlies snapped a four-game losing streak to the Eagles when the fifth-seeded Grizzlies upset second-seeded EWU 70-66 in the 2002 Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game in Bozeman, Mont.

Included in the series history was an 81-75 victory in Missoula to end the 1998-99 season that clinched the sixth and final berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the Eagles. That victory snapped Eastern's eight-game losing streak in Missoula, and a home win in 1998 snapped a 10-game losing streak overall in the series.

A 77-75 Eagle home loss at the end of the 2000-2001 regular season gave Montana a share of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball title in front of 5,426 fans at Reese Court in Cheney. The Eagles had taken a 12-point lead with 8:06 to play in the second half, but went the next 6:21 without scoring. During Montana's 17-0 run, the Eagles missed 10-straight field goal attempts while the Grizzlies made 6-of-7 shots. The loss was Eastern's first in eight conference home games. Montana made 4-of-6 free throws in the last 23 seconds to clinch the win and hold off Eastern's comeback attempt that included a trio of three-pointers in the last 1:45.


Earlier This Season . . . Eagles Fall to Grizzlies 79-66: Montana broke away from a 53-all tie in the second half and went on to defeat Eastern Washington University 79-66 Jan. 8 in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont.

The Eagles, who fell to 5-11 overall and 1-2 in the league, had 22 turnovers compared to just seven for the Grizzlies. Montana scored 32 points off turnovers as it improved to 11-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big Sky.

Eastern freshmen guards Glen Dean and Jeffrey Forbes led the Eagles with 15 and 12 points, respectively, but they also each had six turnovers. Montana guards Anthony Johnson and Will Cherry combined for 42 points and eight steals in the Montana victory.

Eastern senior Brandon Moore had a game-high 11 rebounds as EWU out-rebounded Montana 36-26. He scored eight points, but made just 3-of-10 shots from the field. Mark Dunn and Laron Griffin also had eight points for the Eagles.

It was a nip-and-tuck contest through the first 30 minutes of action, with the game featuring 12 ties and eight lead changes. But the last tie of the game was 53-53 with 12:05 remaining, when EWU Moore made a pair of free throws.

Montana took the lead for good on its next possession, then jumped to a nine-point advantage at 70-61 with 4:27 left when senior guard Ryan Staudacher made back-to-back three-pointers. The Grizzlies took their first double-digit lead at 74-64 on a steal and lay-up by Cherry with 3:06 remaining, and UM led by 10 or more points the rest of the way. Cherry's steal on that play was his seventh of the game.

Johnson, a senior, scored a game-high 25 points, while Cherry, a true freshman, tied his career-high with 17.  Staudacher was UM's other double-digit scorer with 11 points, and he made 3-of-4 three-pointers.

Montana was 27-of-55 (49.1 percent) from the floor, and made 7-of-15 three pointers (46.7 percent). Eastern made 24-of-52 (46.2 percent) field goal attempts, 7-of-12 treys (58.3 percent) and all 11 of its free throw attempts. 




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