With a Solid Home Stretch Ahead, Eagles Host MSU & UM

Eastern plays four of its last six conference games at home, but it may be too late for 2-8 Eagles

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Upcoming Schedule

Date - Opponent - Spokane Radio Station - Time/Pacific
Feb. 12 - vs. Montana State at Reese Court - 1050am - 7:30 p.m. (note time change)
Feb. 14 - vs. Montana at Reese Court - 1510am - 1:05 p.m. -
Televised regionally on Altitude Sports & Entertainment

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.


With a solid stretch of home games ahead, the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team needs lots of Big Sky Conference wins to get back into contention for a post-season berth.

Eastern hosts Montana State on Friday (Feb. 12) at 7:30 p.m. Pacific time (note time change), then plays Sunday (Feb. 14) against Montana at 1:05 p.m. Friday's game may be viewed on SWX TV and heard in the Spokane area on 1050am, while Sunday's game is televised on Altitude Sports and Entertainment and broadcast via radio on 1510am. Both games may also be viewed via the internet at www.bigskytv.org.

But with a 2-8 conference record and seven-game losing streak, it may be too late for the Eagles to garner one of six berths in the Big Sky Conference Tournament that starts on March 6.  Eastern plays four of its last six games at home, but trails sixth-place Northern Arizona by 2 1/2 games in the league standings.

Montana, meanwhile, has won seven of its last eight games after a 1-3 start. Now 8-4 in the league and 17-7 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. But since that time, the Eagles have not tasted victory while the Bobcats have won three of seven games to move to 7-5 in the league and 12-11 overall.

Eastern is coming off a 74-67 loss at Sacramento State last Sunday (Feb. 7), a setback that moved Eastern into last place in the Big Sky standings. The outcome was pivotal for both teams and their hopes for a playoff berth.

The Eagles trailed by nine with 7:48 to play, but couldn't take advantage of a pair of steals and offensive rebounds right after that by missing four layups and missing a pair of free throws. Eastern managed to cut the lead to three late in the game, but head coach Kirk Earlywine didn't think those misses at a critical juncture were the main reason for the crippling defeat.

"Not only did we miss layups, but we missed two free throws right after that," he explained. "Those were six points that we gave away, and we don't have enough margin for error to get away with that. But those are not mental mistakes or lapses in competitiveness -- missed shots are things that happen sometimes. As a coach that's not nearly as disappointing to me. We are not trying to miss those shots, and we played our butts off to get those steals and rebounds to get those layups and free throws. So those are not nearly as disappointing as some of the other mistakes we made."

With three freshmen now in their starting lineup -- Dean, Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford -- Eastern hasn't won since beating Montana State 75-73 on Jan. 10 on a basket with 3.8 seconds remaining by Dean. Since then, four of EWU's losses have been decided by six points or less. So far this season, 12 of 23 Eastern games have been decided by six points or less, including the four prior to falling by 22 at Weber State on Jan. 23. EWU is 4-8 in those 12 nail-biters.

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 have 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..

 

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 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 an 12.0 scoring average as to rank 13th in the Big Sky, and his average of 4.3 assists per game is now second. He is also eighth in the Big Sky in three-point field goal percentage (42.9 percent). In Big Sky Conference play, Dean is averaging 5.3 assists to lead the BSC in league-only statistics, and his 15.2 scoring average is ninth. He has made 20-of-41 treys (48.8 percent to rank fourth) and 26-of-32 free throws (81.3 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 last 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.

"He was outstanding (against Montana State)," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said of the 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Wash. "He gets a little better and we get a little better. We give him a little bit more each week and he's just a sponge -- he absorbs it. He never lets down with his level of competiveness."

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 16th in the Big Sky Conference, and he ranks among the league leaders in several other categories.

Dunn is shooting a team-best 49.5 percent from the field, which ranks 11th in the league. He has showed a deft touch from the outside by making 18-of-45 three-point shots for 40.0 percent, including 9-of-20 in league play (45.0 percent). He has made 81.5 percent of his free throws (53-of-65) to rank sixth in the BSC, and in league play he has made 24-of-27 for 88.9 percent (fifth 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 12.9 Points in League Play: Freshman Jeffrey Forbes is one of three freshmen guards playing big minutes for the Eagles, and is currently averaging 12.9 points in 10 Big Sky Conference games to rank 14th in league-only statistics. Besides teammate Glen Dean (15.2 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 10.3 points overall (22nd in the league) as he has started 22 of 24 games this season. He leads the Eagles with an average of 30.8 minutes per game (34.6 in league play to rank eighth).

Although he has made only 40.5 percent of his shots overall and 30.8 percent from the three-point arc this season, those percentages have increased to 48.4 and 41.9, respectively, in league play. His free throw shooting has been steady all year, making a team-best 87.5 percent (42-of-48) that would rank third in the league had he met the minimum of two free throws made per game. In league games only, Forbes has made 21-of-23 shots from the charity stripe for 91.3 percent to rank third 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 six league games, including highs of 15 against Portland State on Jan. 30 and 18 in the team's next league game versus Sacramento State on Feb. 7.

Glen Dean and Kevin Winford are EWU's other two freshmen guards in the starting lineup. Winford is averaging 6.9 points per game, including a 20-point effort versus Idaho State on Jan. 22 when he made 8-of-18 shots from the field with four three-pointers.

 

Brandon Moore Moves Into Fourth on Career Rebounding List, Eighth in Games Played: Eastern Washington University senior 6-foot-9 center Brandon Moore has moved up on EWU's career leaders lists in both rebounding and games played, and is just one blocked shot from moving up on that list as well.

His current games played total is 110 (with 65 starts) to rank sixth, with Brian Sullivan (111 from 1988-91) the next player to catch. Moore has 916 career points, as well as 643 rebounds to rank fourth in school history (Randy Buss is third with 858 from 1970-72). His 78 career blocked shots ranks him third in school history (Chris White is second with 79 from 1998-01).

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. Paul Butorac (2004-07) and John Garrison (1987-91) each played in 113 games, and 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 8.8 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 had made only 35.7 percent of his shots (30-of-84).

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 69.2 points per game this year (63.5 last year), compared to 77.6 for opponents (68.5 last year).

Eastern's shooting percentages have gradually improved this season, and Eastern has now made 41.5 percent this season (41.8 last year), and 33.7 percent from three-point range (32.4 last year). Eastern is 5-5 when it makes at least 46 percent of its shots, and is 1-13 when it makes 45 percent or less, with the lone victory coming against Sacramento State on Dec. 31 (41.7 percent).

Eastern opponents have made 47.8 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 0-14 when opponents make at least 46 percent of their shots, and 6-4 when they hold them 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 seven games when the Eagles have shot a higher percentage, Eastern is 5-2. 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 seven games this season. Eastern is 4-3 in those seven games, and 2-15 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-MSU Series History (Since 1983-84): Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 20-33 against Montana State. Eastern has won 12 of the last 21 after winning just once in the previous 13 games. However, Eastern is just 3-7 against the Bobcats in the last 10 meetings, including losses in Bozeman in each five of the last six meetings. Until a 75-73 triumph on Jan. 10 in Bozeman, the Eagles hadn't won in Bozeman since Feb. 5, 2004, in a 64-61 triumph.

Since 1983-84, Eastern is 6-21 in Bozeman and 14-12 in Cheney against the Bobcats. EWU trails in the all-time series 26-39 (19-14 in Cheney, 7-25 in Bozeman, 0-0 neutral).

 

Earlier This Season . . . Glen Dean Hits Game Winner Against League Leaders: Almost single-handedly, Glen Dean ended Eastern's road woes.

The Eastern Washington University freshman guard hit a running six-foot bank shot with 3.8 seconds remaining to lift the Eagles to a 75-73 Big Sky Conference men's basketball 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 this season. Eastern improved to 6-11 overall and 2-2 in the Big Sky.

"He was outstanding," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said of the 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Wash. "Maybe more than anything else, what decided this game was good recruiting as it often does. He gets a little better and we get a little better. We give him a little bit more each week and he's just a sponge -- he absorbs it. He never lets down with his level of competiveness."

Tied at 73 with 21.8 seconds remaining, Eastern put the ball in the hands of its rapidly-improving point guard. After his game-winning shot, MSU's Will Bynum missed a shot at the buzzer that could have sent it to overtime.

"The plan was to put the ball in Glen Dean's hands -- I am smart enough to figure that out," explained Earlywine of the game-winner. "They had been trapping him on the ball screens, so we slipped the ball screen early and let him go one-on-one. They still sent their big and he beat both of them. In a perfect world he would have done that at the buzzer. We told him to go at eight, but he got a little antsy like a freshman does early. It was a tad early and gave them a little more time than I had liked, but he made a heckuva shot."

The victory was Eastern's first in its last six tries in Bozeman since a 64-61 Eagle triumph on Feb. 5, 2004. Eastern is now 7-25 all-time in Bozeman against the Bobcats. Montana State fell out of a three-way tie for first in the Big Sky as it fell to 9-7 overall and 4-2 in the league.

Senior Mark Dunn hit 7-of-12 shots from the field to finish with 16 points. Sophomore Laron Griffin sparked Eastern in the second half with 10 points. Griffin also had four rebounds, with three of them coming on the offensive end.

Freshman Kevin Winford hit all three of his shots -- all three-pointers -- to finish with nine points. Dean made 8-of-12 as Eastern made 46 percent of its shots for the second-straight game, having lost 79-66 at Montana on Friday in a game that was tied at 53 in the second half.

Eastern's defense against the Bobcats was exceptional, with MSU making just 9-of-26 in the second half for 35 percent. In fact, MSU made just five of its last 19 shots (26 percent) after making 19 of its first 35 (54 percent). The Eagles also out-rebounded Montana State 38-28 after owning a 36-25 advantage over Montana one game earlier.

"I thought in the last 16 minutes we guarded our butts off," Earlywine said. "We didn't guard very well in the first half. It seemed like every third ball screen they set, we made a mistake of some sort. It wasn't for lack of effort, which is a good thing, but we made technical mistakes. For some reason, from the first media timeout of the second half to the end of the game, we made very few mistakes and our effort level was really good."

The Eagles trailed by as many as eight points in the first half and seven in the second, but came back to take a 56-55 lead in the second half. The Bobcats regained a four-point advantage, but the Eagles went on 6-0 run to take a 69-67 advantage with 2:47 left on a pair of back-to-back baskets by Griffin.

Dean's hit a clutch basket with 41 seconds to play, but two missed free throws down the stretch helped MSU knot the score at 73.

 

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. 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Eagles Spend First Month Dealing with Injuries: The heavy schedule and five injuries in November did not allow the Eagles to have as productive of practices as head coach Kirk Earlywine would like. But that has changed in mid-December as EWU became healthy again.

The Eagles spent the first month of the season dealing with injuries to five Eagles -- Gary Gibson (knees), Brandon Moore (foot and ankle), Abebe Demissie (hamstring), Kevin Winford (concussion) and Matthew Brunell (ankle). The missed time impacted Eastern not only in games, but in practice.

"We've already had a season's worth of bad luck," said Earlywine before Eastern's league opener on Dec. 5. "Hopefully we're close to being through it and we don't have any more. It's been hard, and it's been hard because you can't practice effectively."

Brunell and Winford suffered their injuries in the second game of the season, and Moore missed the Walla Walla game and parts of another with a sprained ankle. Moore also missed much of the preseason because of a foot injury that required minor surgery. Brunell missed five full games and parts of two others; Gibson missed six games; and Winford missed two.

Brunell continued to be bothered by his injury, and then missed Eastern's game against Sacramento State with an injury to his other ankle. Another sprained ankle, this time by starter Alden Gibbs, kept him out of four games from Jan. 15 to Jan. 23.

 

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