Eastern builds 14-point second half advantage, but PSU outscores EWU 40-18 the rest of the way
Portland State rallied from a 14-point second half deficit to defeat Eastern Washington University 85-77 as the Eagles began the second half of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball season Saturday (Jan. 30) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern took a 59-45 lead early in the second half, but was out-scored 40-18 the rest of the way. It was Eastern's fifth-straight loss -- and third-straight at home -- as EWU hasn't won since beating Montana State 75-73 on Jan. 10 on a basket with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Eastern was out-rebounded 39-29 as PSU finished with 13 offensive rebounds, including nine in the second half. The Eagles made 33 percent of their shots from the field after intermission after making 56 percent in the first 20 minutes.
"The things that we do to get a double-digit lead we have to continue to do for 40 minutes," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine, who has three freshmen in his starting lineup. "That's another thing a young team has to learn. We have to continue to push down on the accelerator. Our pace slowed considerably in the second half. We're weren't rebounding the ball and scoring in the paint as well in the second half. It was an accumulation of a lot of things. All we can do is look at those things and do our best to not let it happen again."
The Eagles are now 2-7 in the Big Sky and 6-16 overall while PSU improved to 4-5 in the league and 9-12 overall. The Vikings are the two-time defending Big Sky Tournament champions and NCAA Tournament representative.
Eastern next 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 9-13 following a 87-85 loss to Idaho on Jan. 30.
Portland State used a zone defense to slow the Eagles down after EWU opened its big lead. But the biggest blow was when freshman Glen Dean picked up three quick fouls in the second half and played just eight minutes after intermission. He finished with 10 points and equaled his career high with 10 assists.
"He only played 26 minutes and had 10 assists, so not having him out there was big for us," Earlywine said. "It's hard on us anytime he has to sit out with foul trouble."
Five Eagles scored in double figures, led by freshman Kevin Winford with 16 and senior Brandon Moore with 15 to go along with nine rebounds. Freshman Jeffrey Forbes added 15 point and senior Benny Valentine chipped in 13, with senior Mark Dunn finishing with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The first half featured seven lead changes and five ties as the largest lead by either team was six points. Eastern's six-point lead came at halftime as the Eagles closed the half on a 14-6 run to break from a 34-all tie. Dean had eight of his assists and Dunn had seven of his rebounds in the first half, with Moore and Forbes each scoring 11 points.
Dean assisted on one basket and scored two more as EWU took a 54-42 lead to open the second half. Eastern built the advantage to 14 before PSU began its rally with an 8-0 run. Eventually the Vikings tied the game at 69, followed by two more ties and three lead changes. The last tie came at 74-all with 4:15 left, and PSU took the lead for good at 3:37.
Dean left the game with 17:25 left with his third foul and Eastern leading by 12. He returned at the 10:26 mark and EWU clinging to a three-point lead. After picking up his fourth and departing when the game was knotted at 69, he returned again with 2:55 remaining and PSU up by two.
The game was a rematch of a game played nearly two months ago as Eastern sought 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.