Eagles Look for Road Breakthroughs at UNC, NAU

After home sweep, Eastern plays its final regular season road games trying to stay in the race for a Big Sky Tournament berth

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Upcoming Schedule

Date - Opponent - Spokane Radio Station - Time/Pacific
Feb. 18 - at Northern Colorado - 790am - 6:05 p.m.
Feb. 20 - at Northern Arizona - 1050am - 5:35 p.m.

Eagles on TV/Radio/Webcasts . . .
All EWU home games (except for Feb. 14) will be televised live and/or delayed on SWX in Spokane (SWX Digital 6.2, Cheney Cable 12, Comcast 115, Time Warner 306, Charter 287). Eagle Radio Broadcasts home and away in 2009-10 may be heard live, and stations in Spokane/Cheney that may be used are 1510-AM, 1050-AM or 790-AM. The audio and video of home games is available via WWW.BIGSKYTV.ORG, which also broadcasts the audio and video of EWU road games against all other BSC opponents.


Wins can do so much.

A home sweep last week over Montana State and Montana has helped teach a young Eastern Washington University men's basketball team some lessons as the Eagles take to the road for a pair of critical Big Sky Conference games.

Eastern plays its final road games of the season at Northern Colorado on Thursday (Feb. 18) and Northern Arizona on Saturday (Feb. 20). Thursday's game starts at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time and will be broadcast via radio in the Spokane area on 790am, and Saturday's contest begins at 5:35 p.m. Pacific time and will be carried on 1050am. Both games will also be available at www.bigskytv.org.

The regular season ends for the Eagles with home games against league-leader Weber State on Feb. 26 and Idaho State the next night. Eastern's sweep last week -- 74-69 over MSU and 69-68 against the Grizzlies -- helped the Eagles improve to 8-18 overall and 4-8 in the Big Sky. It also kept alive EWU's hopes alive of garnering one of six berths in the Big Sky Conference Tournament that starts on March 6. The Eagles trail sixth-place Northern Arizona (5-8) by just a half game in the league standings.

Most importantly, with three freshmen in its starting lineup, the Eagles found a way to win a pair of close games and garnered much-needed confidence heading into the stretch run.

"It will be much easier for us to build toward playing two tough road games given that we won these two," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "By winning, it's ratcheted up the significance of Thursday's game. We don't have a lot of margin for error right now."

Northern Colorado is currently in second place in the league with a 9-4 record and is 20-6 overall. The Bears are 9-1 at home this season and knocked off EWU 74-71 on Jan. 16 in Cheney, Wash., in a game in which they used a 16-0 run to overcome a 15-point Eastern lead.

"We felt like that was a game we let slip through our hands and fingers and should have won," said Earlywine of the earlier meeting. "I know it will be tough to play on the road in Greeley, and they are good. We'll put our players out there and see what happens."

The day before it lost to UNC, Eastern fell 73-69 at home to Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks are 11-13 overall and have a 6-4 record at home. Eastern has a current five-game losing streak in Flagstaff, Ariz., dating back to Jan. 15, 2004 when Eastern was victorious 63-57.

In the previous meeting, the Lumberjacks won a game that featured 12 ties and 18 lead changes, with the largest lead by either squad five points. Northern Arizona scored 11 of the game's final 13 points in the last 2:05 as Eastern failed to come up with winning plays down the stretch in that game.

But that changed against Montana State and Montana as EWU won close games down the stretch. Eastern swept the season series with the Bobcats, but allowed the Grizzlies to pull away for a 79-66 win in Missoula on Jan. 8.

"It was big to avenge an earlier loss in which we had a lead in the second half," said Earlywine of the season split against Montana. "It was big to make sure you try to hold serve on your home court. And on top of all that, it was big from a confidence standpoint for our young players.

"The more times you are in those situations the more comfortable you are in those situations," he added. "We made plays down the stretch on Friday night that were winning plays, and we made plays down the stretch on Saturday that were winning plays."

With three freshmen now in their starting lineup -- Glen Dean, Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford -- four of EWU's losses during its seven-game losing streak were decided by six points or less. So far this season, 14 of 26 Eastern games have been decided by six points or less. EWU is 6-8 in those 14 nail-biters.

"As I've said before, the first thing you have to do to win close games is to not make the mistakes that cause you to lose," added Earlywine. "Once you do that, you have to make winning plays. We made winning plays down the stretch (against the Montana schools) that allowed us to win."

 

Eagles Sweep Montana Schools For The First Time Since 2004: Freshman Glen Dean led Eastern to a pair of victories over the Montana schools as he scored the winning points in each leg of Eastern's first conference sweep of the season and first back-to-back victories since Nov. 21. He scored seven of Eastern's final 11 points versus Montana State in a 74-69 win, and 10 of EWU's last 14 in a 69-68 victory over Montana.

For the weekend, he averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 assists while making 50 percent of his shots from the field, 5-of-9 three-pointers and 12-of-16 free throws. Eastern beat Montana for the first time in the last seven meetings, and it was the first sweep over the Montana schools since February 2004 when Eastern won a pair of road games over the Grizzlies and Bobcats. The last time Eastern swept them at home came in February 2003.

Dean, a 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, scored seven of his 12 points in the final 1:06 against Montana State, including a three-pointer with 44 seconds to play that gave EWU the lead for good. That triumph snapped a seven game losing streak as 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.

Versus UM, Dean made a free throw with 2.5 seconds left to provide the final margin in a 69-68 victory over Montana that snapped a five-game winning streak for the Grizzlies. Dean finished with 23 points and seven assists, including 15 points in the second half and 10 in the final 5:56.

Dean made 7-of-8 free throws versus MSU as the Eagles finished 20-of-22 as a team. He made 4-of-5 three-pointers against Montana as Eastern finished with a season-best shooting night from the arc (63.2 percent and total of 12). Overall, he was 7-of-9 as EWU made a season-best 50.0 percent of its shots from the field (23-of-46).

"The plan is for him to make a play," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine of his late-game strategy against the Grizzlies. "If that means a good, clean look for him, then he should go ahead and shoot it. Or, he can drop it off to another player, but we want to put the ball in his hands and let him make the decision of where our shot is going to come from and what is going to happen in the last five seconds."

 

Can Eagles Get Back in Race?: Now in the midst of a solid stretch of home games, the Eagles still need a few more wins to stay in contention for a post-season berth.

With a 4-8 conference record and having just ended a seven-game losing streak, the Eagles are hoping it's not too late to garner one of six berths in the Big Sky Conference Tournament that starts on March 6.  Eastern plays four more games, including its last two at home, but still trails sixth-place Northern Arizona by a half game in the league standings.

Because of a season sweep, the only team Eastern has a solid tiebreaker advantage over is Montana State. But the Bobcats have already clinched a post-season berth and are 8-6 on the season. The other teams that have clinched berths are Weber State (11-2), Northern Colorado (9-4) and Montana (9-5). Fighting for the final two berths are Portland State (5-7), NAU (5-8), EWU (4-8), Idaho State (4-9) and Sacramento State (3-9).

 

Links:
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=basketball&path=mbball
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-m-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/scoreboard
Rodney Stuckey NBA Page -- http://www.nba.com/playerfile/rodney_stuckey/index.html
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM

Recent EWU Men's Basketball Headlines . . .
February 12, 2010 - Eastern Defeats Montana State Again, 74-69
February 7, 2010 - Sac State Knocks Off Visiting Eagles 74-67
February 1, 2010 - Eagles Lose Another Close One, 68-62 to Seattle
January 30, 2010 - Eagles Lose Lead and Fall to Portland State 85-77
January 23, 2010 - League-Leading Weber State Romps Past Eagles 89-67
January 22, 2010 - Eastern Loses at Idaho State 80-74 in Another Close One
January 16, 2010 - Northern Colorado Rallies For 74-71 Win
January 15, 2010 - Eastern Falls Late to Lumberjacks 73-69
January 10, 2010 - Glen Dean Hits Game Winner Against League Leaders
January 8, 2010 - Eagles Fall to Grizzlies 79-66
January 8, 2010 - Glen Dean and Julie Piper are Scholar-Athletes of the Month
December 31, 2009 - Dean and Dunn Lead Eagles Past Sacramento State
December 28, 2009 - Gonzaga Grounds Eagles 94-52
December 23, 2009 - Eastern Drops Fourth-Straight With 72-67 Loss
December 22, 2009 - Eagles Roll 62-53 Loss to Chicago State in Las Vegas
December 19, 2009 - Eagles Thumped by Brigham Young 91-34
December 17, 2009 - Eagles Lose Nip-and-Tuck Game 73-70
December 12, 2009 - Eagles Prevail 100-97 in Overtime Versus Seattle
December 5, 2009 - Eastern Dealt 98-75 Loss by Portland State in BSC Opener
December 1, 2009 - Eastern Romps Past Walla Walla 89-61
November 28, 2009 - Eagles Drop 76-54 Decision to Idaho
November 24, 2009 - Eastern Falls at Home to Boise State 82-69
November 21, 2009 - Freshman Jeffrey Forbes Scores 24 in Eagle Win
November 17, 2009 - Eastern Survives for 100-88 Victory Over Whitman
November 16, 2009 - Eagles Start and Finish Fast, But Fall to Cougars 67-61
November 14, 2009 - Eastern Loses Opener to Portland 64-58
October 23, 2009 - SEASON OUTLOOK

 

TEAM NOTES

Dean Leading Candidate for Big Sky Freshman of the Year: Newcomer Glen Dean is a leading candidate for Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honors as he leads the Eagles in scoring, assists and three-point shooting, and ranks among the Big Sky leaders in all three.

Dean has a 12.4 scoring average as to rank 12th in the Big Sky, and his average of 4.4 assists per game is now second. He is also fourth in the Big Sky in three-point field goal percentage (44.0 percent) and eighth in free throw percentage (77.0). In Big Sky Conference play, Dean is averaging 5.3 assists to lead the BSC in league-only statistics, and his 15.6 scoring average is ninth. He has made 25-of-50 treys (54.8 percent to rank second) and 38-of-48 free throws (79.2 percent to rank ninth). He was selected as Eastern's male recipient of the December Scholar-Athlete of the Month Award, and currently has a 3.85 grade point average at EWU.

Dean equaled his season high with 10 assists at Portland State on Jan. 30, giving him his second double-double of the year as he also had 10 points. However, eight of his assists came in the first half as foul trouble limited him to just eight minutes in the second half. Worst of all, he had to sit out most of the stretch when PSU overcame a 14-point deficit by out-scoring EWU 40-18 in the final 15 minutes.

In EWU's victory on Jan. 10 versus Montana State, Dean finished with 23 points, seven assists and a career-high six rebounds. He made a game-winning, six-foot running bank shot with 3.8 seconds to play. Against Sacramento State on Dec. 31, Dean scored 29 points as he made 8-of-17 shots from the field and 6-of-7 free throws, and had seven assists and just two turnovers in 34 minutes of action. He tied the school record with seven three-pointers in 12 attempts, equaling the mark set on 11 previous occasions by five other players.

Dean had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 10 assists in Eastern's three-point loss at Nevada on Dec. 17. He equaled the 14th-best recorded assists total in school history, and was the most since Rodney Stuckey (now with Detroit Pistons) had 10 versus Idaho State on Feb. 22, 2007.

 

Dunn Having Impressive Senior Season: Senior Mark Dunn ranks second on the team with an 11.2 scoring average to rank 17th in the Big Sky Conference, and he ranks among the league leaders in several other categories.

Dunn is shooting a team-best 50.5 percent from the field, which ranks eighth in the league. He has showed a deft touch from the outside by making 22-of-52 three-point shots for 42.3 percent, including 13-of-27 in league play (48.1 percent to rank fourth). He has made 78.3 percent of his free throws (54-of-69) to rank seventh in the BSC, and in league play he has made 25-of-31 for 80.6 percent (eighth in league games only statistics).

Dunn has scored at least 20 points four times this season -- Whitman (21 on 11/17/09), Walla Walla (23 on 12/1/09), Seattle (21 on 12/12/09) and Sacramento State (26 on 12/31/09). He also had 17 points versus Washington State on Nov. 16, making 7-of-9 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 three-point attempts. The next night he made 7-of-12 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws to finish with 21 points versus Whitman.

Before this season, his previous career high was 14 points in games against Montana and Weber State last season on his way to an average of 5.6 points per game as a 24-game starter. However, he made only 2-of-11 three-pointers in his first 31 games as an Eagle. He helped lead Danville Area Junior College to a fourth-place finish at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament as a sophomore in the 2007-08 season. He averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds that season, with a season-high of 19. As a freshman, he averaged four points and four boards.

 

Also a Freshman, Forbes Averaging 13.7 Points in League Play: Freshman Jeffrey Forbes is one of three freshmen guards playing big minutes for the Eagles, and is currently averaging 13.7 points in 12 Big Sky Conference games to rank 11th in league-only statistics. Besides teammate Glen Dean (15.6 league average to rank sixth in the BSC), no other freshman ranks in the top 20 in league-only scoring.

The 2009 graduate of Federal Way (Wash.) High School is averaging 10.9 points overall (19th in the league) as he has started 25 of 26 games this season. He leads the Eagles with an average of 31.3 minutes per game (34.9 in league play to rank fifth).

Although he has made only 40.9 percent of his shots overall and 33.6 percent from the three-point arc this season, those percentages have increased to 47.5 and 44.1, respectively, in league play. His free throw shooting has been steady all year, making a team-best 86.5 percent (45-of-52) that would rank fifth in the league had he met the minimum of two free throws made per game. In league games only, Forbes has made 24-of-27 shots from the charity stripe for 88.9 percent to rank fourth in league-only statistics.

His best scoring performance came in his fourth collegiate game when he had 24 points in a 72-68 victory at Texas Arlington on Nov. 21. He has scored in double figures in his last seven league games, including highs of 18, 17 and 18 in his last three games versus Sacramento State (Feb. 7), Montana State (Feb. 12) and Montana (Feb. 14).

Glen Dean and Kevin Winford are EWU's other two freshmen guards in the starting lineup. Winford is averaging 7.3 points per game overall and 8.4 in league play. He had a 20-point effort versus Idaho State on Jan. 22 when he made 8-of-18 shots from the field with four three-pointers, then finished with 19 in EWU's 74-69 win over Montana State on Feb. 12.

 

Brandon Moore Moves Into Second on Blocked Shots List, Fifth in Games Played: Eastern Washington University senior 6-foot-9 center Brandon Moore has moved up on EWU's career leaders lists in blocked shots, rebounding and games played in recent games.

His current games played total is 112 (with 67 starts) to rank fifth, with Paul Butorac (2004-07) and John Garrison (1987-91) the next players to catch with 113 each. Moore has 929 career points, as well as 657 rebounds to rank fourth in school history (Randy Buss is third with 858 from 1970-72). His 81 career blocked shots ranks him second in school history behind Butorac's school-record 99.

Moore played in his 100th game as an Eagle at Gonzaga on Dec. 28. He is only the 12th player in EWU's 102-year basketball history to play that many games, with Marc Axton (2002-05) owning the school record of 119. If Moore plays in all of EWU's remaining regular season games, he would rank third in school history with 116. Alvin Snow (2001-04) played in 118.

A 2005 graduate of Bethel High School in Graham, Wash., Moore is currently second in the Big Sky in rebounding with an average of 7.4 per game. He is also averaging 8.6 points per game as he has started his senior season with five double-doubles thus far.

He was selected as the co-Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 14, sharing the honor with Portland State's Phil Nelson. It's the first such honor of Moore's EWU career. Moore had a career-best 26-point effort against Seattle University on Dec. 12 in which he made 10-of-19 shots from the field and 6-of-7 free throws in the 100-97 overtime win. Four of his points came in a 7-0 run in overtime, and he also finished the game with 11 rebounds and a career-high four assists. His previous career high for points came as a freshman against The Evergreen State with 23 points.

But Moore struggled after the Seattle game, averaging only 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during EWU's five-game losing streak that followed. In league play thus far, Moore has made only 35.4 percent of his shots (34-of-96).

Now with 11 double-doubles in his career, Moore had the seventh and eighth double-doubles of his career en route to having a combined 29 points and 32 rebounds in a roughly 26-hour span in November. He had 10 points and 13 rebounds in a 67-61 loss to Washington State on Nov. 16, and then had 19 points and 19 rebounds the next night in a 100-88 win over Whitman.

Moore's 19 rebounds ranks as the third-best performance in recorded school history. His previous career high for rebounds was 14 versus Portland State on Feb. 28, 2009. He also tied his career-high with five blocked shots against the Missionaries, equaling the second-best recorded performance in school history.

 

Trends: Eastern has improved its offensive output from last year, but so has its opponents. Eastern is averaging 69.4 points per game this year (63.5 last year), compared to 76.9 for opponents (68.5 last year).

Eastern's shooting percentages have gradually improved this season, and Eastern has now made 41.8 percent this season (41.8 last year), and 35.1 percent from three-point range (32.4 last year). Eastern is 6-5 when it makes at least 46 percent of its shots, and is 2-13 when it makes 45 percent or less, with the lone victories coming against Sacramento State on Dec. 31 (41.7 percent) and Montana State on Feb. 12 (42.3 percent).

Eastern opponents have made 47.4 percent of their shots thus far (46.7 last year), including shooting performances of 69 percent by PSU (12/5/09) and 64 percent by BYU (12/19/09). The Eagles are 1-14 when opponents make at least 46 percent of their shots, with the lone victory coming against Montana (2/14/10) when Eastern made a season-best 50.0 percent. Eastern is 7-4 when it holds opponents to 45 percent or less.

In the 17 games which EWU has shot a lower or equal percentage than its opponents, Eastern is just 1-16. In the nine games when the Eagles have shot a higher percentage, Eastern is 7-2. In both losses, EWU was out-scored from the free throw line 44-15 as the Eagles were whistled for 47 fouls compared to just 28 for their opponents.

The Eagles have out-rebounded opponents in only eight games this season. Eastern is 5-3 in those seven games, and 3-15 when it has been out-rebounded or tied.

 

Hitting the Century Mark: The Whitman game on Nov. 17 was the 61st time in school history that Eastern has scored 100 points in a game. Eastern then scored 100 in a 100-97 overtime victory over Seattle University on Dec. 12.

Before this season, the last time EWU hit the century mark came in a 100-85 victory over Sacramento State on Jan. 25, 2007, in which current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored 31 points. Eastern had four 100-point performances that season and averaged 84.2 points per game as Stuckey finished his sophomore season with an average of 24.6 points per game.

 

SERIES HISTORY

EWU-Northern Colorado Series History: The Eagles won the first four games in the series until the Bears picked up a 79-66 home win over the Eagles on Feb. 23, 2008, and a 75-68 home triumph early in the 2008-09 season on Jan. 15 in Greeley. Earlier this season, Eastern suffered its first home defeat in the series versus UNC with a 74-71 loss.

The Eagles are 5-3 all-time versus UNC (3-1 in Cheney, 2-2 in Greeley), with the first meeting taking place on Dec. 20, 1971, when Eastern beat the Bears 76-68 in Greeley, Colo. Eastern won a pair of games in 2006-07 when the Bears became a Big Sky Conference member.

 

Earlier This Season . . . Northern Colorado Rallies For 74-71 Win: Eastern Washington University couldn't come up with the winning shot for the second-straight night, and fell to Northern Colorado 74-71 Jan. 16 in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Will Figures hit the game-winning shot for the Bears with 22 seconds to play. After Eastern's Kevin Winford missed a three-pointer with five seconds left, Figures closed out a 21-point scoring night with a free throw to provide the final margin with 2.7 seconds to play. Winford had knotted the game at 71 with a trey with 52 seconds remaining.

Three Eagles scored in double figures as EWU fell to 6-13 on the season and 2-4 in league play. Eastern had lost to Northern Arizona 73-69 the previous night as the Lumberjacks took the lead for good with 31 seconds to play.

Northern Colorado improved its league-best overall record to 16-3, and is 5-2 in the league. The Bears trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, but out-scored EWU 15-0 in a 6:50 stretch at the end of the first half and start of the second.

"Fatigue was a monster factor in the last 10 minutes of the game," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine of playing back-to-back nights. "We put pressure on them in the first half by running, and we scored 41 points. We couldn't run in the second half -- the tank was on empty. I thought our guys were trying their butts off."

Senior Mark Dunn led the Eagles with 16 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists as he made 4-of-7 shots from the field and all six of his free throws. Freshman Jeffrey Forbes had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, and also had a pair of steals and a pair of assists.

Freshman Glen Dean was the third Eagle in double figures as he chipped in 11 points and four assists. Matthew Brunell also had four assists -- a career high -- and a team-high six rebounds.

The Eagles made 10-of-24 three-point shots in the game and sank 46 percent of their shots overall. Northern Colorado made 50 percent in the game, including 57 percent in the pivotal second half.

Eastern led by a dozen in the first half with a 13-2 run that gave the Eagles a 27-15 lead with 7:12 left before intermission on a fast-break dunk by Gary Gibson. Forbes added five points in the run, including one of the three treys the Eagles hit in that stretch.

The Eagles went on to lead 39-29 at halftime as they out-scored the Bears 12-0 in fast-break points in the half. Northern Colorado had a chance to get their first fast-break points in the final seconds, but a travel was called on Neal Kingman on a break-away after a steal.

But Northern Colorado scored the first 10 points in the second half to knot the game at 39. The rest of the half featured seven ties and 11 lead changes.

 

EWU-NAU Series History (Since 1983-84): The Eagles have lost eight of the last 10 meetings, but last year's 54-50 home victory broke a five-game losing streak. Eastern also has a current five-game losing streak in Flagstaff, Ariz., dating back to Jan. 15, 2004 when Eastern was victorious 63-57. Earlier this season, Northern Arizona won in Cheney 73-69.

 Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 21-31 versus Northern Arizona, including a 6-18 record in Flagstaff, Ariz., 14-12 in Cheney and 1-1 on neutral courts. Eastern trails in the all-time series 21-32 (6-18 in Flagstaff, 14-13 in Cheney, 1-1 neutral).

Eastern had won six-straight games against the Lumberjacks and nine of the last 11 until falling 77-64 in Flagstaff on Feb. 5, 2005. The Lumberjacks beat EWU 105-95 on Jan. 5, 2006, in a game in which Eastern's Rodney Stuckey scored a school-record 45 points. Eastern defeated the Lumberjacks 73-61 in Cheney on Feb. 4, 2006, but lost twice in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 season. In 2008-09, Eastern lost 72-49 in Flagstaff and won 54-50 in Cheney.

Until a 72-65 victory in Flagstaff in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern had lost nine-straight meetings there since Feb. 16, 1991. Coupled with a win later in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern swept the regular season meetings with the Lumberjacks for the first time in 10 years. Eastern duplicated that feat in 2003 and 2004.

 

Earlier This Season . . . Eastern Falls Late to Lumberjacks 73-69: Thanks to a late back-door layin, Northern Arizona outscored Eastern Washington 11-2 in the final 2:05 to knock off the Eagles 73-69 Jan. 15 in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Eagle guard Benny Valentine scored 14 points to lead five Eagles in double figures as EWU fell to 6-12 on the season and 2-3 in league play. Northern Arizona improved to 2-4 in the Big Sky and 8-9 overall in a game that featured 18 lead changes and 12 ties.

Eastern led 67-62 against the Lumberjacks with 3:05 to play, lost the lead with a 6-0 NAU run, but re-gained a 69-68 advantage with 44 seconds left on a short jump shot by Mark Dunn. However, NAU's Cameron Jones got loose for a back-door layin on a pass from Eric Platt to take the lead for good with 31 seconds to play. Eastern missed its last two shots and had a turnover in the final 20 seconds as Jones finished with a game-high 28 points for the Lumberjacks.

"The most disappointing thing is that we told our players in the timeout exactly what play Northern Arizona was going to run," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said. "They ran the back door that we knew they were going to run and I'm not sure what more we can do as coaches. That play was the very first thing we practiced guarding when we began preparations on Monday."

Brandon Moore had the fourth double-double of the season and 10th in his career as he finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three assists versus NAU. Jeffrey Forbes added 13 points and three steals, Glen Dean scored 11 with four assists and a pair of steals and Dunn finished with 10 points.

Valentine made 5-of-7 shots from the field and added three assists. It was his highest-scoring game in nearly a month since finishing with 17 versus Jackson State on Dec. 23.

Northern Arizona led at halftime 36-35 after a first half that included eight ties and eight lead changes. The Lumberjacks made a blistering 64 percent of their shots from the field and blocked six shots as Eastern made just 39 percent. The Eagles, however, were aided by 12 NAU turnovers.

The Lumberjacks cooled off in the second half, but were able to open a five-point lead midway through the half. But Eastern used a 7-0 run to regain the lead, and held an advantage until the final minutes.

Northern Arizona finished with 22 turnovers and made 55 percent of its shots from the field. Eastern shot at a 42 percent clip and was out-rebounded 37-29, but had just 13 turnovers.

 

SEASON NOTES

Quartet of Eagles Return to Puget Sound: Eagles Glen Dean, Jeffrey Forbes, Abebe Demissie and Brandon Moore returned to the Puget Sound area to play Seattle on Feb. 1. Dean is a 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, and Demissie graduated the same year from Rainier Beach. Forbes is a 2009 graduate of Federal Way (Wash.) High School and Brandon Moore graduated in 2005 from Bethel High School in Graham, Wash.

Three of the Eagles won WIAA titles as seniors during their high school careers. Moore led Bethel to the 4A title in 2005, Demissie helped Rainier Beach win the 3A title in 2008 and Forbes contributed toward a Federal Way triumph in the 4A ranks in 2009.

 

EWU Season Recap Thus Far -- Eastern opened the season with a 64-58 loss to Portland on Nov. 14 after a pair of exhibition wins (98-61 over Saint Martin's and 67-58 over Montana State-Billings). The Eagles lost by just six points despite making only 32 percent from the field (15-of-47), allowing Portland to make 7-of-13 three-pointers and getting out-rebounded 37-24.

"I liked our shots -- we just didn't make them," said head coach Kirk Earlywine. "It's hard to win when you compound getting out-rebounded with giving up 54 percent from the arc and pile on top of that shooting 32 percent. Really, it's surprising that we were in the game with a chance."

The Eagles followed that with a 67-61 loss at Pacific 10 Conference member Washington State. The Eagles, who had a 17-9 lead early in the game, rallied with a 15-5 run late in the game to pull within one at 62-61 with 1:04 left. But the Cougars sandwiched a three-pointer and two free throws in the final 44 seconds around an Eagle turnover to score the final five points of the game.

The following night in a 100-88 helter-skelter victory over NCAA Division III Whitman College, Eastern made 50 percent of its shots from the field, had a 54-35 rebounding advantage and scored 56 points inside the paint. However, EWU finished with 30 turnovers to come one away from the school record of 31 against Washington in 1995. The game included 49 total turnovers, 56 total fouls (30 by Whitman) and 79 total free throws.

Despite playing its fourth game in eight days, the Eagles registered a 72-68 road victory at Texas Arlington on Nov. 21. Freshman Jeffrey Forbes had 24 points as the Eagles led from start to finish, opening a 16-point lead in the first half.

The Eagles followed that with an 82-69 home loss to Boise State as the Broncos took a 10-0 lead with eight early fast-break points. After BSU led by 14 at halftime, Eastern cut the lead to one in the second half. But eight-straight Bronco points helped put the lead out of reach as they equaled their biggest lead of 14 twice.

The Idaho game on Nov. 28 followed a similar pattern as the Eagles fell behind by scores of 12-3 and 36-15, and trailed at halftime 45-23. Both teams scored 31 points in the second half, and the game earlier EWU actually out-scored Boise State 39-38 after intermission.

The Eagles led from start to finish in their 89-61 victory on Dec. 1 against Walla Walla University, with Mark Dunn scoring 17 of his 23 points in the first half. In the following game against Portland State on Dec. 5, the Eagles had no answer for the 69 percent shooting night by Portland State and fell 98-75. The Vikings made 33-of-48 shots in the game, including a blistering 16-of-21 in the first half as EWU allowed its most points in nearly three years. Portland State used a 12-0 run in the first half to take the lead for good, and then scored 10 unanswered points in the second half to pull away.

The Eagles followed the PSU game with a week off, and then recorded a 100-97 overtime home victory over Seattle University on Dec. 12. The game featured 12 lead changes and seven ties, and the final time the game was knotted was at 87-all with 3:01 to play in overtime. But EWU's Glen Dean hit a driving layin, followed by a pair of baskets by Brandon Moore. Dean closed the 7-0 run with a free throw to give EWU a 94-87 advantage with 1:09 to play. Eastern, which had forced the overtime with a basket with 10 seconds to play in regulation by Dunn, closed the scoring in overtime with a pair of free throws by Kevin Winford with seven seconds left.

Eastern didn't have the same late-game magic against Nevada on Dec. 17, as Nevada's Brandon Fields nailed a three-pointer with 4.3 seconds to play to defeat Eastern 73-70. Dean, who finished with 13 points and 10 assists for the Eagles, missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer in a game that featured 15 ties and seven lead changes. Eastern missed four of its last five shots, including a pair with the game knotted at 70.

The Eagles then followed with a 91-34 loss at BYU. The Eagles scored the first basket against the Cougars, and then were out-scored 33-0 over the next 10 minutes. Eastern was out-shot 64 percent to 27 percent, and were out-rebounded 45-17. The 57-point setback was not the worst in school history -- EWU lost at New Mexico by 59 points, 121-62, on Dec. 3, 1993.

In a pair of neutral site games at the Las Vegas Classic, Eastern fell to Chicago State 62-53 and then lost to Jackson State 72-67. Eastern made only 28 percent of its shots against the Cougars, which used runs of 12-0 and 9-0 in the first half to take a 34-20 lead at intermission. Jackson State used a late 10-0 run to register its first victory in 11 games in the 2009-10 season.

The Eagles lost their fifth-straight game at nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Dec. 28, losing 94-52 after falling behind 53-25 at halftime. Eastern connected on just 28.8 percent of their shots from the field against Gonzaga, including just 4-of-24 behind the arc for 16.7 percent. Eastern was out-rebounded 56-35 in the game and had 16 turnovers in the first half, leading to 24 Gonzaga points off turnovers.

The Eagles snapped their losing streak when Dean and Dunn combined for 55 points in a 79-75 win over Sacramento State on Dec. 31. Eastern opened the game with a 13-0 run, and had led by as many as 16 points in each half as Dean tied the school record with seven three-pointers in 12 attempts.

A 79-66 loss at Montana followed, as the Grizzlies broke away from a 53-all tie in the second half. The game featured 12 ties and eight lead changes to that point, but the difference in the game was EWU's 22 turnovers compared to just seven for the Grizzlies. Montana scored 32 points off turnovers.

Two days after the Montana loss, Dean hit a running six-foot bank shot with 3.8 seconds remaining to lift the Eagles to a 75-73 upset over Montana State Jan. 10 at Worthington Arena in Bozeman, Mont. Dean scored 23 points, and also led the team with seven assists and six rebounds as Eastern recorded just its second road win in 11 tries.

But the Eagles followed with a pair of home losses, losing to Northern Arizona in a game that featured 12 ties and 18 lead changes, with the largest lead by either squad five points. One night later, the Eagles led by 15 in the first half against Northern Colorado, and then allowed the Bears to go on a 15-0 run to knot the score. Northern Colorado made its game-winning points with 22 seconds left after NAU hit its game-winner with 31 ticks of the clock remaining.

Eastern's losing streak increased to four games with road losses to Idaho State (80-74) and Weber State (89-67). The Idaho State game featured 14 lead changes and eight ties, but the Bengals took the lead for good with 6:22 to play. The next night, the Wildcats opened a 10-0 lead and led the entire way.

Eastern returned home to lose its fifth-straight game, falling 85-77 to Portland State. Eastern took a 59-45 lead early in the second half, but was out-scored 40-18 the final 15 minutes of the game. Eastern's sixth-straight loss came on Feb. 2 in a 68-62 loss at Seattle. Eastern took a 58-55 lead with 3:05 to play on a three-pointer by Winford, but didn't score in the next  2 1/2 minutes during Seattle's game-sealing 8-0 run. The Redhawks clinched the win by making 9-of-9 free throws in the final 1:49.

The seventh-straight loss for the Eagles came on Feb. 7 with a 74-67 loss at Sacramento State, which used an 18-7 run to end the first half to open a double-digit lead. The Hornets made three-straight shots late in the game after Eastern had cut the lead to three with 2:19 to play. Sac State closed out the win by making 5-of-8 free throws in the final 26 seconds. Eastern allowed Sac State to make 52 percent of its shots from the field, including 55 percent in the first half. The Eagles made only 38 percent.

Eastern rebounded from the Sac State with a pair of victories over the Montana schools as Dean scored the winning points in each leg of Eastern's first conference sweep of the season and first back-to-back victories since Nov. 21. He scored seven of Eastern's final 11 points versus Montana State in a 74-69 win, and 10 of EWU's last 14 in a 69-68 victory over Montana. Eastern beat Montana for the first time in the last seven meetings, and it was the first sweep over the Montana schools since February 2004 when Eastern won a pair of road games over the Grizzlies and Bobcats. The last time Eastern swept them at home came in February 2003.

Dean scored seven of his 12 points in the final 1:06, including a three-pointer with 44 seconds to play that gave EWU the lead for good in the win over Montana State. That triumph snapped a seven game losing streak as 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.

Two days later, Dean made a free throw with 2.5 seconds left to provide the final margin in a 69-68 victory over Montana that snapped a five-game winning streak for the Grizzlies. Dean finished with 23 points and seven assists, including 15 points in the second half and 10 in the final 5:56.

Dean made 7-of-8 free throws versus MSU as the Eagles finished 20-of-22 as a team. He made 4-of-5 three-pointers against Montana as Eastern finished with a season-best shooting night from the arc (63.2 percent and total of 12). Overall, he was 7-of-9 as EWU made a season-best 50.0 percent of its shots from the field (23-of-46).

 

Grueling Schedule Early for Eagles: 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 on Dec. 12. 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.

Eastern followed that with four games in seven nights, starting with a hard-fought 73-70 loss at Nevada on Dec. 17 in which Eastern lost on a Wolf Pack three-pointer with 4.3 seconds remaining. That game featured 15 ties and seven lead changes, with the Seattle game including 12 ties and seven lead changes.

Eastern followed those encouraging games with a trio of discouraging ones. Eastern had a pair of start-to-finish losses against Brigham Young (91-34 on Dec. 19) and Chicago State (62-53 on Dec. 22), and then lost to previously winless Jackson State (72-67 on Dec. 23). The BYU game had just one lead change as the Cougars went on a 33-0 run after EWU scored the first basket of the game. The fifth game of the losing streak came at nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Dec. 28.

 

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