Rematch Time for EWU When PSU Visits Saturday
Eagles are hoping for redemption after getting thumped by Vikings 98-75 in Portland on Dec. 5
Date - Opponent - Spokane Radio Station -
Jan. 30 - vs. Portland State at Reese Court- 1050am - 7:05 p.m.
Feb. 1 - at Seattle - 1510am - 7:10 p.m.
Eagles on TV/Radio/Webcasts . . .
All EWU home games 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.
It's rematch time in the Big Sky Conference for the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team.
The Eagles begin the second half of the league season this Saturday (Jan. 30) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., when Portland State visits for a rematch of a game played nearly two months ago. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. as Eastern seeks a measure of revenge from a 98-75 thumping back on Dec. 5 in the earliest Big Sky start in EWU history.
It was the most points EWU has given up this season and the 23-point loss was EWU's third-largest setback of the year. The Vikings made 33-of-48 shots in the game for 68.8 percent -- the highest against the Eagles this season.
"Yes, it's a big game," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "Hopefully we will play considerably better than we did in Portland."
Eastern enters the game with a four-game losing streak, including three games decided by six points or less. So far this season, 11 of 21 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 4-7 in those 11 nail-biters.
The Eagles finished the first half of the league season 2-6, while PSU is 3-5 in the league and 8-12 overall. The Vikings are the two-time defending Big Sky Tournament champions and NCAA Tournament representative. Eastern is 6-15 on the season, with four of its victories coming at home.
"It should help," said Earlywine of EWU being able to play its lone league game of the week on its own home floor. "I said after the PSU game a month ago that I didn't do a good job of preparing our team on the defensive end of the floor for what PSU does. And we've made some changes, so we've been much better offensively since that game."
As part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Night, 1,000 free t-shirts will be given away at Saturday's game. Featured guests will be the Cheney School District, with special "Big Bad Buck" discount coupons given away to students and staff district-wide. Saturday's game will be televised live in the Spokane area on SWX, as well as at www.bigskytv.org. It is also available via radio in the Spokane area on 1050-AM.
The Eagles are coming off an 89-67 loss at Weber State in which the Wildcats opened a 10-0 lead and led the entire way. Eastern's previous three losses in its current losing streak came by a combined 13 points. With starter Alden Gibbs missing EWU's last four outings with a sprained ankle, the Eagles have played those games with just nine players available.
Eastern hasn't won since beating Montana State 75-73 on Jan. 10 on a basket with 3.8 seconds remaining by Dean. The Eagles followed that by losing a pair of home games in the final seconds, falling to Northern Arizona 73-69 on Jan. 15 and Northern Colorado 74-71 the following night. The night before Eastern lost to Weber State, the Eagles fell 80-74 to Idaho State in a game that featured 14 lead changes and eight ties.
Eastern lost to NAU in a game that featured 12 ties and 18 lead changes, with the largest lead by either squad five points. 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 against EWU with 31 ticks of the clock remaining.
Following Saturday's game versus PSU, Eastern plays at Seattle University Monday (Feb. 1) at Key Arena, with tipoff set for 7:10 p.m. The Eagles defeated the Redhawks 100-97 in overtime on Dec. 12 in Cheney. Seattle is 9-11 this season and plays Washington (Jan. 26) and Idaho (Jan. 30) prior to hosting the Eagles.
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 . . .
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
Dunn and Dean Have Identical Scoring Statistics: Senior Mark Dunn and freshman Glen Dean have combined for 26 double figure scoring performances this season, including a combined 39 points in EWU's 75-73 road win over Montana State on Jan. 10. They also combined for 55 points in EWU's 79-75 victory over Sacramento State on Dec. 31.
Both have scored 250 points this season for identical 11.9 scoring averages as both players rank 14th in the Big Sky. Dunn is shooting a team-best 49.7 percent from the field, which ranks 12th in the league. He has showed a deft touch from the outside by making 18-of-41 three-point shots for 43.9 percent, including 9-of-17 in league play (52.9 percent to rank third in the BSC). He has made 82.0 percent of his free throws (50-of-61) to rank sixth in the BSC, and in league play he has made 21-of-23 for 91.3 percent (fourth in league games only statistics).
Dean leads EWU with an average of 4.0 assists per game to rank second in the Big Sky, and is fifth in the Big Sky in three-point field goal percentage (45.1 percent). In Big Sky Conference play, Dean is averaging 15.9 points per game to rank seventh in league only statistics, including 19-of-36 treys (52.8 percent to rank fourth). He was recently 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.
Versus the Bobcats, 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 the Hornets, 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 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.
Forbes Averaging 12.0 Points in League Play: Freshman Jeffrey Forbes is one of three freshmen guards playing big minutes for the Eagles, and is currently averaging 12.0 points in eight Big Sky Conference games. The 2009 graduate of Federal Way (Wash.) High School is averaging 9.6 points overall as he has started 19 of 21 games this season. He leads the Eagles with an average of 30.0 minutes per game.
Although he has made only 39.8 percent of his shots overall and 29.2 percent from the three-point arc this season, those percentages have increased to 45.9 and 38.7, respectively, in league play. His free throw shooting has been steady all year, making a team-best 85.7 percent (36-of-42) 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 16-of-18 shots from the charity stripe for 88.9 percent.
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 four league games, including highs of 14 against Northern Colorado on Jan. 16 and Idaho State on Jan. 22.
Glen Dean and Kevin Winford are EWU's other two freshmen guards. Winford is averaging 6.4 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, Ninth 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 two blocked shots from moving up on that list as well.
His current games played total is 107 (with 62 starts) to rank ninth, with Melvin Bradley (108 from 1982-85) the next player to catch. Moore has 885 career points, as well as 621 rebounds to rank fourth in school history (Randy Buss is third with 858 from 1970-72). His 77 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, although his average slipped from a league-high 9.9 after eight games to a current average of 7.4. He is also averaging 8.6 points per game as he has started his senior season with four 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. In league play thus far, Moore had made only 33 percent of his shots (22-of-66).
Now with 10 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 69.3 points per game this year (63.5 last year), compared to 77.9 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 34.8 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 1-10 when it makes 45 percent or less, with the lone victory coming against Sacramento State on Dec. 31. Eastern opponents have made 47.9 percent of their shots thus far (46.7 last year), including shooting performances of 69 percent by PSU and 64 percent by BYU.
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.
EWU-PSU Series History -- Eastern has lost the last four meetings, including losses last year in Portland (83-61 on Jan. 24) and in Cheney (66-62 in overtime on Feb. 24). Before that, Eastern had won five of the last six meetings.
Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are now 16-12 versus the Vikings. All of the meetings have come since 1997 when PSU joined the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles have won 14 of the last 21 meetings, and Eastern is 10-4 in Cheney and 6-7 against PSU in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) since 1983-84. Eastern leads the overall series 17-15, with EWU owning an 11-5 record in Cheney and 6-9 mark in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) against the Vikings.
Earlier This Season -- Eastern Dealt 98-75 Loss by Portland State in BSC Opener: It wasn't a good night to have to face the two-time defending league champions.
The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team had no answer for the 69 percent shooting night by Portland State and the Eagles fell to the Vikings 98-75 Dec. 5 at the Stott Center in Portland, Ore. It was the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams and the earliest it's ever been for the Eagles.
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 this season. 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 Vikings were coming off an impressive 86-82 victory at 25th-rnaked Portland, a team Eastern narrowly lost to 64-58 on Nov. 14 at home. The Vikings won the Big Sky regular season and tournament title in 2008, and the tournament title last season to advance to the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season.
"It was a little bit of a struggle for us at times, but we did score 75 points and shot a respectable percentage," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said. "But the game was decided on the other end of the floor, obviously. When you allow a team to shoot 69 percent you are not going to win. I had our players so worried about the three-point line that all of our defensive principles and rules went out the window because we were trying so hard to take that away. Instead we gave up layins and dunks."
Freshmen Glen Dean and Jeffrey Forbes led the Eagles with 17 points each as they combined for 11-of-13 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Dean also had four assists and Forbes had three. Brandon Moore added 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Eagles finished the game making 27-of-59 shots from the field for 46 percent, and made 16-of-21 free throws for 76 percent.
But the real offense belonged to the Vikings and a quartet of players -- Dominic Waters, Melvin Jones, Julius Thomas and Jamie Jones. They combined for 75 points on 26-of-37 shooting from the field and 18-of-23 from the line.
With Eastern having difficultly defending Portland State's ball screens against EWU's man-to-man defense, Earlywine said playing a zone against the Vikings was not an option. Portland State made eight three-pointers in the game after entering the contest averaging just over nine per game.
"They have too many guys that shoot the ball well," Earlywine explained. "There are seven or eight different ways you can defend those ball screens, and I opted to go with one we have already used and had some familiarity with. But it was a bad decision on my part and I told the players that I blew this one for them. I will not let that happen again. There were a couple of non-competitive moments on the floor, but the majority of this was me."
Eastern led early 10-8, but PSU used a 12-0 run to take the lead for good. The Vikings led at halftime 44-35.
Eastern stayed within striking distance in the second half, and trailed just 64-57 mid-way through the half. But the Vikings responded with a 10-0 run to take a 74-57 advantage with 8:18 to play. Portland State led by as many as 25 and the closest Eastern came the rest of the way was 15.
EWU-Seattle Series History: Eastern leads the all-time series 9-4 after a 100-97 overtime win over Seattle on Dec. 12 and a 63-59 overtime loss to the Redhawks on Feb. 24, 2009. Before that, the last meeting came on Nov. 22, 1985, when Eastern won 83-64 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. That was the lone game played between the two schools since EWU moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The first four meetings came in the 1945-46 season, and Eastern won all four as well as a pair the following season. A split followed in 1948-49, and Seattle swept a pair in the 1951-52 season.
Seattle was in NCAA Division I from 1944-1980, with such star players as Elgin Baylor, John O'Brien, Clint Richardson and Frank Oleynick on its rosters. Baylor, in fact, led Seattle to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament where it lost 84-72 to Kentucky. Formerly known as the Chieftains, from 1980-2002 they were affiliated with NAIA and from 2002-2007 were a member of NCAA Division II. Here is a list of the recent meetings:
11/22/85 - W - Seattle
- 83-64 - H
2/24/09 - L - Seatle - 59-63 (ot) - H
12/12/09 - W - Seattle - 100-97 (ot) - H
Earlier This Season -- Eagles Prevail 100-97 in Overtime Versus Seattle -- Senior center Brandon Moore scored four of his career-high 26 points in a key 7-0 run in overtime as Eastern Washington defeated Seattle University 100-97 in a non-conference college men's basketball game Dec. 12 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
"I think that's a great win," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "They have beaten Utah and they have beaten Fresno State -- they are a good basketball team that causes you a lot of problems with their personnel and their style of play. That's a heckuva win for us."
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 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 Mark Dunn, closed the scoring in overtime with a pair of free throws by Kevin Winford with seven seconds left. Seattle's Taylor Olson missed a contested three-pointer at the buzzer that could have knotted the game and sent it into a second overtime.
A year ago, in the first meeting between the two schools in more than 23 years, Seattle pulled out a 63-59 overtime victory.
Moore had the ninth double-double of his career as he also finished 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.
Dunn also had a double-double -- the first of his career -- with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He also had three assists as the Eagles finished with 29 (only four from the school record of 33) against the game-long, full-court pressing defense by the Redhawks. Eastern had just 15 turnovers, and finished with 18 fast-break points to the 17 of Seattle.
"In a game where Seattle traps and presses as much as they did, 15 turnovers is pretty respectable," Earlywine said. "That's true especially when you consider he had to play much of the game without Glen Dean and (senior guard) Benny Valentine because of foul trouble."
Earlywine was particularly pleased with the play off the bench of senior guard Gary Gibson, who had no turnovers in 21 minutes. He had played just two of EWU's previous eight games because of nagging knee problems.
"Our hat is off to Gary Gibson," Earlywine added. "He hasn't been able to do much physical activity since last June until about 10 days ago, but he came in and stabilized us when Glen and Benny were out. I thought that was a huge factor in the game."
Winford, a true freshman, finished with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists in his most productive game as an Eagle. Redshirt freshman Abebe Demissie added 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots and a pair of steals in just his sixth game as a collegiate player.
Eastern made 46 percent of its shots from the field, compared to 42 percent for Seattle. Eastern made 5-of-6 in the extra period compared to 4-of-12 for the Redhawks. A year ago in the meeting with Seattle, Eastern failed to score a field goal in the overtime period.
Six Redhawks scored in double figures, led by the 24 of Chris Gweth. Six-foot-10 pro prospect Charles Garcia was held to 12 points and eight rebounds, and had six of his team's 24 turnovers. He had entered the game averaging a double-double (26.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game), and was ranked in the top five in NCAA Division I in scoring.
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.
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.
Eagles Versus Ranked Teams: Eastern lost 94-52 to Gonzaga on Dec. 28, 2009, in EWU's most recent game against a nationally-ranked foe. The Bulldogs were ranked 22nd by ESPN/USA Today, but were just out of the top 25 at No. 26 by Associated Press. The 2008-09 season was the first time since 2002-03 that Eastern did not play a nationally-ranked team. The Eagles played 12 such games in the five seasons before that.
Eastern is 1-15 versus nationally-ranked teams -- including
three games in the 2004-05 season alone as well as three the year
before. Seven of the games came under former head coach Mike Burns
and five others came under Ray Giacoletti from 2000-2004.
12/28/09 vs. #22 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 52-94
12/5/07 vs. #3 Kansas - L, 47-85
11/9/07 vs. #10 Washington State - L, 41-68
12/15/06 vs. #22 Oregon - L, 74-100
11/24/06 vs. #16 Washington - L, 83-90
12/19/05 vs. #8 Gonzaga - L, 65-75
12/16/05 vs. #11 Washington - L, 74-91
12/28/04 vs. #14 Arizona - L, 45-79
12/21/04 vs. #13 Gonzaga - L, 70-83
12/5/04 vs. #14 Washington - L, 56-89
3/19/04 vs. #3 Oklahoma State - L, 56-75
12/31/03 vs. #16 Gonzaga - L, 49-70
11/21/03 vs. #14 Oklahoma - L, 59-69
11/15/01 vs. #10 St. Joseph's - W, 68-67
11/25/00 vs. #4 Michigan State - L, 61-83
1/21/85 vs. #10 DePaul - L, 50-72
Eagles Face Three Players Ranked in Top Five Nationally in Scoring: Eastern's first nine games of the season included a trio of opposing players ranked among the top five scorers in NCAA Division I. And one of them the Eagles will have to face again on Feb. 1.
Through games of Dec. 13, Marquez Haynes from Texas Arlington was averaging 25.7 points per game to rank second nationally, Washington State's Klay Thompson was third with a 25.1 average and Charles Garcia was fifth at 24.6. Thompson scored 24 against the Eagles and Haynes had 32, but the Eagles held Garcia to just 12 on 4-of-12 shooting from the field and 4-of-9 from the free throw line.
But Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine was even more impressed by Nevada's Luke Babbitt, who made 10-of-18 shots to finish with 29 points and nine rebounds on Dec. 17 against EWU. He had entered the game averaging 18.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
"We've played three of the top five scorers in the country, but I think Babbitt is by far the best player we've played against," praised Earlywine. "He had a couple of easy baskets against us, but not very many. He made 10 baskets against us, and I would say eight of them were pro-level shots -- they were 16-foot fadeaways. He has incredibly long arms and we can't do anything to stop those buckets. He made tough shots and he's good -- very, very good. My hat is off to him."
A transfer from Riverside Community College and originally from Los Angeles, Calif., Garcia has helped the Redhawks become a force to reckon with in just their second year as a member of NCAA Division I. A year ago, in the first meeting between the two schools in more than 23 years, Seattle pulled out a 63-59 overtime victory. The two schools will play again later this season on Feb. 1 at Key Arena in Seattle.
"We knew we had our hands full against Garcia," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said after the game. "To be honest, I didn't know if we could hold him to below 20 because he's so big and so skilled. The one thing we wanted to do was to keep him off the free throw line -- we wanted to hold him to single digit free throw attempts. We wanted to make him earn his baskets with jump shots, and for the most part we did that."
Garcia had scored 41 points in an 84-83 loss to Wofford College, and had four double-doubles in his first nine games of the season -- Weber State (27 points/11 rebounds), Fresno State (21/12), Cal Poly (26/16) and UC Davis (22/12).
"He's legit -- he's a first-round draft pick," complimented Earlywine before the game. "He's 6-10 and he handles it like (Houston Rockets 6-8 guard/forward) Tracy McGrady. He can shoot the ball and drive it -- he's putting up 20 and 10 numbers against every team he faces, including on the road. He had 41 the other night. He's the real deal."