Broncos use 10-0 start to lead from start to finish in fifth game in 11 days for the Eagles
Boise State jumped out to a 10-0 lead and went on to defeat Eastern Washington 82-69 Tuesday (Nov. 24) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., in the fifth game in 11 days for the Eagles.
On Saturday (Nov. 28), the Eagles play at Idaho at Memorial Gym, beginning at 7:05 p.m.
Senior center Brandon Moore led the Eagles with 18 points and nine rebounds, but his 6-foot-9 counterpart from Boise State had an even bigger night. Boise State's Ike Okoye had 21 points, 17 rebounds, six blocks, three assists and two steals in helping BSU improve to 3-2.
Eastern, which was out-shot 59 percent to 26 percent in the first half, fell to 2-3. Eastern had won its last two games, including an impressive 72-68 road victory at Texas Arlington on Saturday (Nov. 21), which was the fourth game in eight days for the Eagles.
Boise State entered 2-2 after losing 87-61 at Wyoming on Nov. 21. The Broncos defeated Loyola Marymount (90-87) and North Dakota (75-60), but lost on the road at Montana (95-82).
The Broncos had 16 fast-break points against the Eagles, but eight of those came during BSU's 10-0 start. Boise State eventually led by 14 at halftime, 44-30.
With Matthew Brunell (ankle) and Abebe Demissie (hamstring) sidelined with injuries, Eastern used just eight players for the third-straight game.
"The No. 1 key to the game for us was conversion defense," explained Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine. "There were a variety of factors -- it was our fifth game in 11 days, and because we're shorthanded, we couldn't work on conversion defense live in practice and couldn't go full speed. I can start making a list, but every team can.
"But you still have to play, and we didn't do it in the first five minutes of the game. The first five minutes of the game was the game."
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.
Benny Valentine added 16 points and three assists for the Eagles, but he made just 5-of-15 shots from the field, including 3-of-10 from the three-point stripe. Fellow guard Glen Dean added 12 points, but he was just 3-of-14 from the field.
The Eagles made 34 percent of their shots, including only 6-of-20 treys for 30 percent. The Broncos made 53 percent of their shots and out-rebounded Eastern 45-36.
The Vandals are now 3-1 after a 75-61 victory over Sacramento State on Tuesday (Nov. 24). Idaho opened the season with a huge 94-87 road win at Utah, then lost at Texas Southern 72-65 and won 81-69 over North Dakota State.
Last season, Eastern split against the Broncos and Vandals, with the home team winning both games. Eastern defeated Idaho 69-59 at home to improve to 3-1 on the season on Nov. 24, but a month later it was a different story in a 57-48 road loss at BSU. Eastern made only 32 percent of their shots with a stretch at one point of 12-straight misses as the Eagles lost for the fourth time in five games to fall to 7-6. The 48 points EWU scored were a season low for the Eagles.
In the WAC preseason polls, Idaho was picked to finish fourth by both the media and coaches, with guard Mac Hopson picked to the preseason All-WAC team by both. Boise State was picked to finish fifth by the media and seventh by the coaches.
"We have familiarity with both of them," said Earlywine of the Broncos and Vandals. "Both are quality teams picked to finish in top half of the Western Athletic Conference."
Eagles Knocked Off Idaho Last Season Before Vandals Got Hot: Eastern Washington opened an 18-point lead at halftime and went on to defeat Idaho 69-59 in last year's meeting with the Vandals. But ever since that game -- even intermission -- the Vandals have been on a hot streak.
Idaho was 2-3 at that point of the season, but finished 17-16 and 9-7 in the Western Athletic Conference to place third. Idaho is 2-1 this season (heading into Tuesday's game with Sacramento State), meaning they have gone 17-14 since falling to the Eagles.
Three Eagles scored in double figures in last year's meeting, led by a double-double by center Brandon Moore with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Benny Valentine added 13 points and four assists as the Eagles won their third-straight game after a season-opening loss at Illinois.
The Eagles made 57 percent of their shots in the first half (13-of-23) while Idaho made just 35 percent (8-of-23) as EWU built a 41-23 lead at halftime. The second half was a different story as Idaho made 46 percent (11-of-24) and Eastern made only 38 percent (9-of-24).
Eastern went nearly six minutes without a field goal late in the second half as Idaho pulled to within six at 63-57 with 2:19 to play. But Eastern made its last six free throws, including four by Valentine, to close-out the win. Valentine played just 29 minutes because of foul trouble, helping aid Idaho's comeback in the second half.
The Vandals were led by the 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals by guard Mac Hopkins, who would average 16.4 points for the season. Fellow guard Kashif Watson scored 11 points with five rebounds and four assists against the Eagles, and he also averaged in double figures for the season (10.3). Both Hopkins and Watson are seniors on this year's squad.
EWU vs. Idaho Series History: Eastern trails in
the all-time series 12-38, including last year's 69-59 victory in
Cheney and a 58-49 loss the year before in Moscow. Eastern won
four-straight games in the series from Nov. 29, 1999, to Dec. 7,
2002, but that was nothing compared to Idaho's nearly 10-year
winning streak. The Vandals won 22-straight games against the
Eagles from Nov. 28, 1986, to Feb. 17, 1996, including a 65-62
buzzer beater in the 1990 Big Sky Conference Tournament
championship game. The streak was finally snapped with a 66-53
Eagle home win on Nov. 29, 1999. From the 1987-88 season through
1995-96, both schools were members of the Big Sky Conference. Below
are series results since EWU became a member of NCAA Division I in
the 1983-84 season.
12/28/83 - L - 69-91 - A
1/17/84 - W - 77-70 - H
1/16/85 - L - 66-59 - A
2/13/85 - L - 75-78 - H
12/7/85 - W - 79-65 - A
1/15/86 - W - 79-67 - H
11/28/86 - L - 65-76 - ~
1/14/87 - L - 45-55 - H
11/25/88 - L - 54-79 - #
2/6/88 - L - 64-74 - A
2/27/88 - L - 58-61 - H
1/28/89 - L - 54-73 - H
2/5/89 - L - 74-87 - A
1/27/90 - L - 51-70 - A
3/1/90 - L - 54-72 - H
3/9/90 - L - 62-65 - $
1/26/91 - L - 55-72 - H
3/2/91 - L - 65-80 - A
1/30/92 - L - 54-64 - A
3/7/92 - L - 57-60 - H
1/22/93 - L - 63-87 - A
2/20/93 - L - 80-82 - A
1/21/94 - L - 65-71 - A
2/19/94 - L - 64-82 - H
1/21/95 - L - 62-78 - A
2/17/95 - L - 54-61 - H
1/19/96 - L - 53-75 - H
2/17/96 - L - 63-76 - A
11/29/99 - W - 66-53 - H
12/30/00 - W - 73-66 - A
12/6/01 - W - 59-48 - A
12/7/02 - W - 67-62 - H
12/28/03 - L - 60-64 - A
01/02/05 - L - 50-52 - H
11/30/05 - W - 68-55 - A
12/21/06 - W - 85-56 - H
12/9/07 - L - 49-58 - A
11/24/08 - W - 69-59 - H
~ -- Inland Empire Classic in Spokane, Wash. (3rd)
# -- Inland Northwest Classic in Spokane, Wash. (4th)
$ -- Big Sky/Coors Light Tournament in Boise, Idaho (championship game)