Eastern makes just 25 percent of its shots compared to 50 percent for Washington State, as Eagles fall to 4-3
Jim Hayford wanted to reverse the curse.
But instead, he witnessed a shooting effort that was half that of Washington State, as his Eagles lost to the Cougars 75-49 in a non-conference college basketball game Saturday (Dec. 3) at Friel Court in Pullman, Wash. Eastern hasn’t defeated the Cougars in Pullman since 1952.
The first-year Eastern head coach entered the game with a 4-2 record against the 3-4 Cougars, but EWU made only 25 percent of its shots from the field (15-of-59), including only 4-of-23 3-point attempts for 17 percent. The Eagles had entered the game leading the Big Sky Conference in 3-pointers per game (10.3) on an average of 27.5 attempts (37.6 percent).
“They were very well prepared for us,” said Hayford. “Our defense wasn’t good – they shot 50 percent. Our offense wasn’t good – we made 25 percent. And they beat us up on the boards. We forced turnovers, but we just laid an egg and I’m really, really disappointed.”
Meanwhile, the Cougars used a 14-0 run in the first half to help them to a 41-25 halftime lead. Washington State finished the game making exactly 50 percent of their shots from the floor (23-of-46), as the Cougars snapped EWU’s three-game winning streak. It was the first time in seven games this season that Eastern hasn’t held a lead in the second half.
Eastern had only 12 turnovers compared to 21 for the Cougars, but Eastern was pounded on the boards 45-29. Washington State’s Charlie Enquist had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“They did a great job against our ball-screen defense and exploited it – they made us look poor,” Hayford said. “I want to give Washington State all the credit, and apologize for how our team played tonight.”
Junior Collin Chiverton scored 12 points to lead the Eagles, but he made only 3-of-11 shots from the field. Senior Cliff Ederaine, this week’s Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, was held to three points on 1-of-8 shooting and only two rebounds. He went into the game averaging 12.7 points per game and a team-leading 7.5 boards per outing.
Eastern’s starting five combined to make only 8-of-20 shots for 40 percent.
“We were getting good looks the first six to eight minutes – and those were shots we’ve been making,” explained Hayford. “When those aren’t falling, that’s when we need to come together more and execute better. You can’t freelance and you can’t splinter.”
Eastern’s 4-2 start was only the seventh time in 29 seasons since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in 1983-84 that the Eagles have won at least four of their first six games. That has happened only once in the last eight seasons, with EWU going 6-2 in 2008-09 before finishing just 12-18.
Against the Pac-12, wins have been even rarer. Eastern is now 12-74 versus the league, and has lost 13-straight games versus current teams from the Pac-12. The Eagles are 11-54 against WSU, having lost the last four meetings dating back to an 83-82 Eastern overtime win on Dec. 22, 1997. That represented EWU’s first victory over the Cougars since Dec. 1, 1952, when Eastern pulled out a 72-71 overtime win in Pullman.
“We’re going to build a great program,” Hayford vowed. “Eastern hasn’t won here in nearly 60 years, and we’ll show better the next time we get here. It’s early and it’s a long season. They were the much-better team today.”
Eastern now has a four-day break without a game during finals week at EWU. The Eagles return to action on Thursday, Dec. 8 when Linfield visits for a 6:05 p.m. game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Wildcats are 1-4 thus far, and host Pacific Lutheran on Dec. 3 and Multnomah on Dec. 5 before playing Eastern. Linfield and PLU (EWU’s opponent at home on Dec. 16) are members of the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference – the same league Hayford belonged to the past 10 seasons while he was at Whitworth.
The game was close for the first 10 minutes, and a 3-pointer and two free throws by Chiverton gave EWU a 14-13 lead with 8:08 left. But Eastern missed its next eight shots and had two turnovers before it scored again at the four-minute mark. The 14-0 Cougar run gave them the lead for good at 27-14.
Washington State continued to build on the lead, and led 41-25 at halftime. The closest Eastern came in the second half was 11 and the biggest lead for WSU came with 3:04 left at 73-45.