Senior point guard scores 49 points in two tourney games, with 25.3 average in three career postseason outings
Concluding his honor-filled senior season with a flourish, senior point guard Cliff Colimon was selected to the Big Sky Conference Championship All-Tournament team for scoring 49 points in two games in the tournament. He is EWU’s first all-tournament selection since Rodney Stuckey in 2006, and its 14th overall.
The native of Brooklyn, N.Y. saved his best for last, finishing with 77 points in his final three games, including a career-ending 27 in a 70-66 loss at Montana in the semifinals of the tournament on March 6 in Missoula, Mont. Colimon made 10-of-20 shots from the field and was 5-of-5 from the free throw line, and also added two assists, four rebounds and a steal in his 58th and final game as an Eagle
“Cliff played a superb game – it was everything you could ever want from a senior,” praised Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after the Montana loss.
In addition, Colimon scored 22 points in the quarterfinals, and coupled with last year’s 27 points in the quarterfinals, he averaged 25.3 points in three career tourney games. He earned first team All-Big Sky honors as a senior (Eastern’s first since the 2006-07 season), and late in the year earned his first-ever Big Sky Conference Athlete of the Week accolade.
Colimon scored at least 20 points on 13 occasions as a senior, including seven of his last nine outings with a 21.9 average in those nine games (four victories).
For the season, Colimon was second in the Big Sky Conference in assists (5.0 per game), third in scoring (16.5), fifth in steals (1.6), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.5), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1), fifth in free throw percentage (.810) and third in minutes played (35.1). In statistics from league games only, he ranked third in scoring (17.9), second in assists (4.8), and second in minutes played (36.6).
He equaled EWU’s eighth-best performance in school history with 160 single season assists in the 2011-12 season, equaling the 160 current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey had as a sophomore in 2006-07. Colimon’s 66 3-pointers made in his senior season rank sixth in school history and his 183 attempts are seventh. Despite playing just two seasons for EWU, he ranks sixth in school history for career 3-pointers with 114, and is sixth in attempts with 311.
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Colimon was impressive in Eastern victories in the 2011-12 season, including EWU’s last two victories – both against Idaho State.
He scored 22 points to go along with seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in EWU’s 81-76 victory versus ISU in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Championship on March 3. One game earlier on Senior Night on Feb. 28 in a 77-64 win over Idaho State, he had a career-high 28 points to eclipse his previous high by one. He also added four assists versus the Bengals – all in the second half when he scored 20 of his points. Colimon had a four-point play with 53 seconds left in the first half to give EWU a five-point lead, then EWU out-scored ISU 44-35 after intermission, including a 30-15 run in the first 10:38 of the second half. Colimon earned his first-ever Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honor after the Senior Night victory.
“What you want on a senior night is for your seniors to step up,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “Cliff led us offensively and had a great combination of beating people off the pass, the dribble and the shot. It was a complete game by our team and a complete game by these seniors. Generally, in basketball the team that is more aggressive is the team that wins, and I like that we were the more aggressive team.”
He came on strong at the end of the season much like he did in his junior year when he had his previous career high with 27 points in last year’s Big Sky Conference Tournament against Weber State. In his final three games of his junior season, Colimon led EWU to a pair of victories and averaged 19.0 points per game.
In Eastern’s victories in the 2011-12 season, Colimon averaged 18.1 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting from the field (34-of-87 from the 3-point arc for 39.1 percent). In EWU’s losses, he averaged 15.1 points on 36.0 percent shooting from the field (32-of-96 3-point shooting for 33.3 percent).
Colimon also had a near triple-double versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 15 when he had 22 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in EWU’s come-from-behind 79-76 win. One league game later, he scored 21 points with six rebounds and three assists in EWU’s 85-78 win at Idaho State on Feb. 23. He also had a 22-point effort on 8-of-16 shooting from the field in EWU’s Big Sky Conference-opening 82-66 victory over Montana State on Dec. 28.
Colimon struggled with his shot in Eastern losses to Saint Mary’s (77-61 on Dec. 20), UCLA (60-47 on Dec. 14) and Washington State (75-49 on Dec. 3). He was just 4-of-33 (12.1 percent) from the field in those three games, including only 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) of his 3-point attempts.
But it’s hard to put up better numbers than what Colimon compiled in a victory over Linfield (104-54 on Dec. 8) and a loss to Cal State Fullerton (91-76 on Dec. 11). In 72 minutes of action, Colimon had 46 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, six steals and just one turnover. He combined to make 18-of-34 shots from the field and 7-of-16 from 3-point range en route to scoring 23 points in each outing.
Colimon followed that with five assists, two steals and two turnovers in 40 minutes versus UCLA, but scored just five points on 1-of-12 shooting. Two nights later versus PLU, he made 8-of-12 shots from the field, 4-of-6 3-pointers and 6-of-9 free throws to finish with a season-high 26 points – one from his career high. He also added seven assists and three steals, but also had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers.
In Eastern’s 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8, Colimon scored 23 points and had three steals and a career-high 11 assists to equal the seventh-most in school history. It was Eastern’s top assist performance in more than 10 years since Jason Lewis had 12 versus Cal State Northridge on Jan. 20, 2001. Colimon also had no turnovers in 32 minutes of action.
Head coach Jim Hayford said it best after the Linfield game: “I loved Colimon’s line – 11 assists, 23 points and no turnovers.”
“We stopped calling him Little Cliff – his name is ‘Tough Cliff’ now,” Hayford said in reference to the nickname given to Colimon and the “Big Cliff” moniker given to forward Cliff Ederaine. “Colimon was hurt more than anybody by his performance at Washington State – he had a tough night down there. Hopefully the confidence he gained against Linfield will be fuel in his tank.”
He scored 17 points and had eight assists in his season-opener against Gonzaga on Nov. 11. The eight assists versus the Bulldogs was his career high until the output of 11 versus Linfield. His assists total against Gonzaga doubled his previous career high of four set last season against Idaho State (1/29/11) and Sacramento State (12/29/10).
Colimon’s previous career high of 27 points came in the final game of the 2010-11 season against Weber State (3/5/11) in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. In fact, in his last three games last season and first game this year, Colimon averaged 18.5 points per game, including victories over Montana (59-55) and Weber State (75-59), and near-misses versus Weber State (79-70) and Gonzaga (77-69).