After falling behind 12-2, Eagles stay within striking distance but never lead in falling to 4-11 for the season and 1-2 in the Big Sky
Despite holding Portland State without a field goal for nearly six minutes in the second half, a slow start doomed Eastern Washington University in a 74-58 loss to Portland State Saturday (Jan. 8) in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game at the Stott Center in Portland, Ore.
The Eagles fell behind 12-2, but rallied to within six in the second half with an 8-0 run. Eastern held Portland State without a field goal for 5:53, but couldn’t complete the comeback as the Eagles scored only seven points in the final six minutes.
“It was really a struggle for us in the first half, and it was ugly, but we kind of dug in and hung in there,” said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. “Despite not shooting the ball well, we hung in there and had some big defensive possessions.”
Junior forward Tremayne Johnson scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Eagles, and sophomore guard Glen Dean added 16 points and six assists as EWU fell to 4-11 for the season and 1-3 in the Big Sky. The Vikings improved to 9-6 overall and 2-1 in the league.
“Right now we are inconsistent in putting the whole game together -- offense, defense, rebounding, not fouling -- all those things,” said Earlywine. We do a good job in stretches. Every game we have a couple of things we do really well and it changes from game to game. We have to work on putting the whole thing together.”
Eastern plays league road games at Montana (Jan. 13) and Montana State (Jan. 16) this week to complete a four-game road stretch. In Missoula, EWU will try to snap a 14-game losing streak on the road -- eight games this year and six to end the 2009-10 season. The last time Eastern tasted victory on the road was a year ago on Jan. 10, 2010, when Dean made a game-winning, six-foot running bank shot with 3.8 seconds to play in a 75-73 victory at Montana State.
Eastern missed its first five shots and had three turnovers as the Eagles didn’t score for the first 5:05 of the game as PSU jumped out to its 12-2 lead. The Vikings took a 38-25 advantage late in the half before settling for an 11-point halftime lead.
The Vikings took their biggest lead of the night at 53-38, but that’s when the Eagles made their 8-0 run to cut the advantage to 53-46 with an 8-0 run. Portland State went 2 1/2 minutes without scoring in that stretch and went from the 11:15 mark to the 5:22 mark without a field goal.
But a three-point play by Chehales Tapscott, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Vikings, re-ignited the Vikings with 5:22 left. That gave them a 61-51 lead as they closed the game with a 16-7 run.
Big Sky Conference rebounding leader Cliff Ederaine had 14 boards for Eastern as the Eagles had a 41-40 advantage on the glass, including 14 offensive rebounds. However, Portland State made 44 percent of its shots from the field, made 18-of-27 free throws (67 percent) and had only 10 turnovers.
“Cliff Ederaine had 14 rebounds and Tremayne Johnson continues to show a little bit more every game of what we expect of him,” said Earlywine of the bright spots for his team. “And Geoffrey Allen helped us tonight. His length and his athletic ability on the defensive end of the floor helped us, plus he had two offensive boards. Those are things we can draw from moving forward.”
Dean and Johnson combined for 13-of-27 shooting, but the rest of the team was just 7-of-38 (18 percent). That led to a 30-percent shooting night for the Eagles.
“It was similar to the game at South Dakota,” said Earlywine of a narrow 78-72 loss on the road on Dec. 20. “They played zone against us and so did Portland State. We were too reliant and too eager to shoot a three-pointer and not work hard enough to get the ball inside. In the final 13 or 14 minutes of the game we saw big Cliff and Tremayne in the post a little better and on some of those occasions were able to come up with some points down there. But not enough.”