Eagles Finish Strong and Win at Hawai’i, 89-72

Chiverton has another 20-point outing as Eastern evens record at 2-2 heading into Sunday home game versus UC Davis

Now that’s the way you take a lead and make it bigger.

Eastern Washington University turned a four-point advantage into leads of 14 and 18 in the second half, and went on to defeat Hawai’i 89-72 in a non-conference college men’s basketball game Tuesday (Nov. 22) at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Eagles, who have held second-half leads in all four of its games thus far, improved to 2-2 with the victory over the Rainbow Warriors of the Western Athletic Conference. Hawai’i fell to 1-2 as it suffered its first loss in five all-time meetings against EWU from the Big Sky Conference.

“I’m really happy and the players are just ecstatic right now,” said first-year Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “It’s a long haul and we’re 2-2 with 30 games on the schedule. But what they did tonight is gain some confidence.”

Eastern next has a post-Thanksgiving home game on Sunday (Nov. 27) against UC Davis of the Big West Conference in a game that begins at 1:35 p.m. Pacific time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Aggies are 1-5 following a 69-61 home loss to Big Sky member Sacramento State.

Junior Collin Chiverton led Eastern with his third effort of at least 20 points, finishing with 20 on 6-of-14 shooting from the field with three 3-pointers. Averaging 19.3 points entering the game with a pair of 25-point efforts already this season, the 6-6 Chiverton made 5-of-5 free throws.

Senior Cliff Ederaine scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and made 5-of-9 shots. A 46 percent free throw shooter as a junior, he made 8-of-9 free throws.

Senior point guard Cliff Colimon chipped in 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and made all six of his free throws. Junior guard Jeffrey Forbes added 14 points and a pair of treys with 4-of-4 shooting from the charity stripe.

Hawai’i out-shot the Eagles 49 percent to 45 percent, but the Rainbow Warriors missed 13 free throws and converted only 3-of-14 3-pointers. Eastern won the rebounding battle 34-30 and had 13 boards on the offensive end, and also had just 11 turnovers compared to 16 for Hawai’i.

The Eagles, averaging 11 3-pointers made on 28 attempts through three games, sank 7-of-26 from the arc against the Rainbow Warriors. Eastern also sank 24-of-26 free throws, including 14-of-15 in the last 4:23 to clinch the win.

“We finished off the game really well,” said Hayford. “We got Collin involved after they did a great job in the first 10 minutes to have a scheme to keep him out of the game. We finished the first half well, then our guys answered and attacked in the second half. You have to take care of the ball and make free throws at the end to win on the road, and we did that.”

"There is a correlation between hard work in the offseason and coming in and knocking them down in a tough place to play like this,” he added.

The Eagles trailed in the first half 9-2 and 27-21, but rallied to take a four-point lead at intermission. Eastern used a 13-3 run to pull ahead 46-32, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Forbes just 17 seconds apart giving EWU a 14-point advantage with 15:27 left.

Eastern led by 11 when the Eagles went on 9-2 run to take an 18-point advantage, and Chiverton’s trey gave EWU a 62-44 lead with 7:55 remaining.

The closest the Rainbow Warriors would come the rest of the way was 11, and the largest Eastern lead came late in the game at 83-64.

Eastern was coming off a frustrating 73-65 loss at Oregon on Nov. 17, and had a nine-point second half lead versus the Ducks evaporate. The Eagles went 7:42 without a field goal down the stretch, turning a 56-53 lead into a 69-61 deficit in that span. The game was Eastern’s third in seven days, including a season-opening 77-69 loss at 23rd-ranked Gonzaga on Nov. 11. Eastern held four leads in the second half versus GU – its last with 6:48 to play -- and nearly pulled off an upset in the EWU coaching debut for Hayford.

“Our players keep showing poise,” Hayford said of having second-half leads in all four games. “This has really been a good trip because the players can spend time together and bond. To play well is one thing, but to see them get along really reinforces all of those things so much. It was just a great night to be an Eagle.”

The Rainbow Warriors lost to Gonzaga 73-54 in Vancouver, B.C. last Saturday (Nov. 19) after opening the season with an 86-67 victory over Cal State Northridge on Nov. 14. Eastern entered the game 0-4 all-time against Hawai’i, with the first meeting occurring in 1953 and the latest in 2008.

Sunday’s opponent, the Aggies, have played an ambitious schedule already, and the loss to Sacramento State was their sixth game in a 12-day span. Most recently, UC Davis fell at Stanford 70-49, and before that, picked up its first win of the season with an 84-78 triumph over UC Santa Cruz on Nov.15. The Aggies lost on back-to-back-to-back nights against Southern Utah (76-75), Bryant (70-63) and San Diego State (89-74) to open the season.

“The first two letters of Eastern is E-A, and the last two are R-N – you have to go EARN respect,” Hayford said. “We just doubled our win total, but to get any respect you have to protect your home court. They are going to enjoy this win – they deserve it. But then tomorrow it’s time to prepare to go beat UC Davis and earn that respect.”

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