January 4, 2007

Eastern Begins Road Stretch With Victory

Jan. 4, 2007

Final Stats

Greeley, Colo. -

Life on the road in the Big Sky Conference is seldom pleasurable. Unless, of course, you shoot well, get huge contributions throughout your lineup and win.

Eastern Washington University made 61 percent of its shots from the field and opened a difficult road stretch with a 88-87 victory over Northern Colorado Thursday (Jan. 4) at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in Greeley, Colo.

Sophomore Rodney Stuckey led the way with 25 points, 10 assists and three steals as the Eagles opened a pair of 16-point leads in the second half. Eastern, which had seven players score at least eight points and received a total of 42 points from its bench, withstood a furious rally by Northern Colorado to secure the victory.

"They have been phenomenal this season and they were again tonight," said Eagle head coach Mike Burns of his bench, which has now scored 77 points in EWU's two league victories thus far. "Without their contributions, we don't win. You have to take your hat off to them."

The game was the first-ever Big Sky meeting between the two schools as Eastern began a stretch in which eight of its next 10 games are on the road. The Eagles are now 2-1 in the league and 8-7 overall heading into Saturday's (Jan. 6) game at defending Big Sky regular season champion Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks, who defeated Portland State 85-78 on Thursday, are 2-1 in the Big Sky and 7-7 overall.

Northern Colorado, which hosts PSU on Saturday, is 0-3 in the conference and 2-13 overall in its first season as a member of the Big Sky. The only previous meeting between Eastern and Northern Colorado came on Dec. 20, 1971, when Eastern beat the Bears 76-68 in Greeley, Colo.

Eastern equaled its best shooting percent of the season as it made 31-of-51 shots. Stuckey made only 6-of-15 field goal attempts, but made up for it with an 11-of-14 performance from the free throw line and a career-high 10 assists. He also had 10 assists last season versus Pacific Lutheran to rank as the 14th-best performance in school history.

Eastern finished with 25 assists on 31 baskets. Michael Taylor added 10 points, and huge bench contributions came from Rhett Humphrey (10 points), Brandon Moore (10 points, six rebounds), Kellen Williams (nine points, four rebounds) and Matt Penoncello (nine points, four assists).

"Rodney did a great job handling the ball for us," said Burns. "At times we moved the ball very well, showed good patience and got some good shots."

Eastern led from start to finish, and used a 13-8 run in the first half to open a 47-35 advantage just before halftime. In the second half, Eastern took 16-point leads of 58-42 and 67-51 before missing four of its last five field goal attempts in the last six minutes. The Eagles also had three turnovers and missed four of eight free throws in that stretch.

"They really turned up the pressure at the end and extended things," said Burns. "We started getting catches at 30 feet rather than 20 feet. We have to finish these games and play as well at the end as we were able to play up until the middle of the second half."

"That's what they did against Weber State and Sacramento State," added Burns. "They are just a scrappy group and you have to give them credit for digging in and guarding us the way that they did."

Eastern held the Bears to 45 percent shooting in the first half and 48 percent in the game. But the Eagles were out-rebounded 35-24 and allowed 15 offensive rebounds by UNC.

"A lot of that was caused by our transition defense not being good at times and not getting in good rebounding position," Burns said of his team's rebounding woes. "We'll have to clean that up before we play Northern Arizona."

Dwayne Birden finished with 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field to lead Northern Colorado. Kirk Archibeque had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and made all 10 of his free throws. Sean Taibi scored all 13 of his points in the second half.

"Our effort defensively for stretches was very good," added Burns. "When we had breakdowns it seemed like Birden was the guy that ended up with the ball."

The Bears have now lost five-straight games, with their last victory a 74-59 win at Denver on Dec. 10. Northern Colorado is 0-8 on the road and 2-5 at home thus far. Seven of UNC's losses have come by two points or fewer, including all three of its league games thus far. Three other games have been decided by nine or 10 points. The Eagles and the Bears have not had a common opponent this season.

Eastern is now 2-6 away from home this season, including an 87-66 romp at Portland on Dec. 9. Among Eastern's road losses are setbacks to Gonzaga, UNLV, Washington, Santa Clara and Oregon -- all with at least nine wins each this season. Three of those teams are or have been nationally ranked.

Last year the Eagles were 6-1 at home in the Big Sky and were 3-4 on the road to finish third in the league at 9-5.

Northern Arizona, picked by the conference's head coaches to defend its regular season league title, opened conference play by beating Sacramento State soundly 96-82 before losing a home game to Weber State 81-73. The Lumberjacks now have a 6-1 record at home and a 1-6 record away from home. The lone common opponent for the Eagles and Lumberjacks was UNLV -- Eastern lost at UNLV 82-79 on Nov. 14 and NAU was pounded 93-53 there on Dec. 2.

"They are always tough to play in that building," said Burns. "We're going to need a defensive effort for the entire 40 minutes against them that we showed in stretches against Northern Colorado. And we need to come down and execute offensively. If we do those things, we'll be fine."

Jan. 4, 2007

Final Stats

Greeley, Colo. -

Life on the road in the Big Sky Conference is seldom pleasurable. Unless, of course, you shoot well, get huge contributions throughout your lineup and win.

Eastern Washington University made 61 percent of its shots from the field and opened a difficult road stretch with a 88-87 victory over Northern Colorado Thursday (Jan. 4) at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in Greeley, Colo.

Sophomore Rodney Stuckey led the way with 25 points, 10 assists and three steals as the Eagles opened a pair of 16-point leads in the second half. Eastern, which had seven players score at least eight points and received a total of 42 points from its bench, withstood a furious rally by Northern Colorado to secure the victory.

"They have been phenomenal this season and they were again tonight," said Eagle head coach Mike Burns of his bench, which has now scored 77 points in EWU's two league victories thus far. "Without their contributions, we don't win. You have to take your hat off to them."

The game was the first-ever Big Sky meeting between the two schools as Eastern began a stretch in which eight of its next 10 games are on the road. The Eagles are now 2-1 in the league and 8-7 overall heading into Saturday's (Jan. 6) game at defending Big Sky regular season champion Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks, who defeated Portland State 85-78 on Thursday, are 2-1 in the Big Sky and 7-7 overall.

Northern Colorado, which hosts PSU on Saturday, is 0-3 in the conference and 2-13 overall in its first season as a member of the Big Sky. The only previous meeting between Eastern and Northern Colorado came on Dec. 20, 1971, when Eastern beat the Bears 76-68 in Greeley, Colo.

Eastern equaled its best shooting percent of the season as it made 31-of-51 shots. Stuckey made only 6-of-15 field goal attempts, but made up for it with an 11-of-14 performance from the free throw line and a career-high 10 assists. He also had 10 assists last season versus Pacific Lutheran to rank as the 14th-best performance in school history.

Eastern finished with 25 assists on 31 baskets. Michael Taylor added 10 points, and huge bench contributions came from Rhett Humphrey (10 points), Brandon Moore (10 points, six rebounds), Kellen Williams (nine points, four rebounds) and Matt Penoncello (nine points, four assists).

"Rodney did a great job handling the ball for us," said Burns. "At times we moved the ball very well, showed good patience and got some good shots."

Eastern led from start to finish, and used a 13-8 run in the first half to open a 47-35 advantage just before halftime. In the second half, Eastern took 16-point leads of 58-42 and 67-51 before missing four of its last five field goal attempts in the last six minutes. The Eagles also had three turnovers and missed four of eight free throws in that stretch.

"They really turned up the pressure at the end and extended things," said Burns. "We started getting catches at 30 feet rather than 20 feet. We have to finish these games and play as well at the end as we were able to play up until the middle of the second half."

"That's what they did against Weber State and Sacramento State," added Burns. "They are just a scrappy group and you have to give them credit for digging in and guarding us the way that they did."

Eastern held the Bears to 45 percent shooting in the first half and 48 percent in the game. But the Eagles were out-rebounded 35-24 and allowed 15 offensive rebounds by UNC.

"A lot of that was caused by our transition defense not being good at times and not getting in good rebounding position," Burns said of his team's rebounding woes. "We'll have to clean that up before we play Northern Arizona."

Dwayne Birden finished with 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field to lead Northern Colorado. Kirk Archibeque had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and made all 10 of his free throws. Sean Taibi scored all 13 of his points in the second half.

"Our effort defensively for stretches was very good," added Burns. "When we had breakdowns it seemed like Birden was the guy that ended up with the ball."

The Bears have now lost five-straight games, with their last victory a 74-59 win at Denver on Dec. 10. Northern Colorado is 0-8 on the road and 2-5 at home thus far. Seven of UNC's losses have come by two points or fewer, including all three of its league games thus far. Three other games have been decided by nine or 10 points. The Eagles and the Bears have not had a common opponent this season.

Eastern is now 2-6 away from home this season, including an 87-66 romp at Portland on Dec. 9. Among Eastern's road losses are setbacks to Gonzaga, UNLV, Washington, Santa Clara and Oregon -- all with at least nine wins each this season. Three of those teams are or have been nationally ranked.

Last year the Eagles were 6-1 at home in the Big Sky and were 3-4 on the road to finish third in the league at 9-5.

Northern Arizona, picked by the conference's head coaches to defend its regular season league title, opened conference play by beating Sacramento State soundly 96-82 before losing a home game to Weber State 81-73. The Lumberjacks now have a 6-1 record at home and a 1-6 record away from home. The lone common opponent for the Eagles and Lumberjacks was UNLV -- Eastern lost at UNLV 82-79 on Nov. 14 and NAU was pounded 93-53 there on Dec. 2.

"They are always tough to play in that building," said Burns. "We're going to need a defensive effort for the entire 40 minutes against them that we showed in stretches against Northern Colorado. And we need to come down and execute offensively. If we do those things, we'll be fine."

Jan. 4, 2007

Final Stats

Greeley, Colo. -

Life on the road in the Big Sky Conference is seldom pleasurable. Unless, of course, you shoot well, get huge contributions throughout your lineup and win.

Eastern Washington University made 61 percent of its shots from the field and opened a difficult road stretch with a 88-87 victory over Northern Colorado Thursday (Jan. 4) at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in Greeley, Colo.

Sophomore Rodney Stuckey led the way with 25 points, 10 assists and three steals as the Eagles opened a pair of 16-point leads in the second half. Eastern, which had seven players score at least eight points and received a total of 42 points from its bench, withstood a furious rally by Northern Colorado to secure the victory.

"They have been phenomenal this season and they were again tonight," said Eagle head coach Mike Burns of his bench, which has now scored 77 points in EWU's two league victories thus far. "Without their contributions, we don't win. You have to take your hat off to them."

The game was the first-ever Big Sky meeting between the two schools as Eastern began a stretch in which eight of its next 10 games are on the road. The Eagles are now 2-1 in the league and 8-7 overall heading into Saturday's (Jan. 6) game at defending Big Sky regular season champion Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks, who defeated Portland State 85-78 on Thursday, are 2-1 in the Big Sky and 7-7 overall.

Northern Colorado, which hosts PSU on Saturday, is 0-3 in the conference and 2-13 overall in its first season as a member of the Big Sky. The only previous meeting between Eastern and Northern Colorado came on Dec. 20, 1971, when Eastern beat the Bears 76-68 in Greeley, Colo.

Eastern equaled its best shooting percent of the season as it made 31-of-51 shots. Stuckey made only 6-of-15 field goal attempts, but made up for it with an 11-of-14 performance from the free throw line and a career-high 10 assists. He also had 10 assists last season versus Pacific Lutheran to rank as the 14th-best performance in school history.

Eastern finished with 25 assists on 31 baskets. Michael Taylor added 10 points, and huge bench contributions came from Rhett Humphrey (10 points), Brandon Moore (10 points, six rebounds), Kellen Williams (nine points, four rebounds) and Matt Penoncello (nine points, four assists).

"Rodney did a great job handling the ball for us," said Burns. "At times we moved the ball very well, showed good patience and got some good shots."

Eastern led from start to finish, and used a 13-8 run in the first half to open a 47-35 advantage just before halftime. In the second half, Eastern took 16-point leads of 58-42 and 67-51 before missing four of its last five field goal attempts in the last six minutes. The Eagles also had three turnovers and missed four of eight free throws in that stretch.

"They really turned up the pressure at the end and extended things," said Burns. "We started getting catches at 30 feet rather than 20 feet. We have to finish these games and play as well at the end as we were able to play up until the middle of the second half."

"That's what they did against Weber State and Sacramento State," added Burns. "They are just a scrappy group and you have to give them credit for digging in and guarding us the way that they did."

Eastern held the Bears to 45 percent shooting in the first half and 48 percent in the game. But the Eagles were out-rebounded 35-24 and allowed 15 offensive rebounds by UNC.

"A lot of that was caused by our transition defense not being good at times and not getting in good rebounding position," Burns said of his team's rebounding woes. "We'll have to clean that up before we play Northern Arizona."

Dwayne Birden finished with 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field to lead Northern Colorado. Kirk Archibeque had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and made all 10 of his free throws. Sean Taibi scored all 13 of his points in the second half.

"Our effort defensively for stretches was very good," added Burns. "When we had breakdowns it seemed like Birden was the guy that ended up with the ball."

The Bears have now lost five-straight games, with their last victory a 74-59 win at Denver on Dec. 10. Northern Colorado is 0-8 on the road and 2-5 at home thus far. Seven of UNC's losses have come by two points or fewer, including all three of its league games thus far. Three other games have been decided by nine or 10 points. The Eagles and the Bears have not had a common opponent this season.

Eastern is now 2-6 away from home this season, including an 87-66 romp at Portland on Dec. 9. Among Eastern's road losses are setbacks to Gonzaga, UNLV, Washington, Santa Clara and Oregon -- all with at least nine wins each this season. Three of those teams are or have been nationally ranked.

Last year the Eagles were 6-1 at home in the Big Sky and were 3-4 on the road to finish third in the league at 9-5.

Northern Arizona, picked by the conference's head coaches to defend its regular season league title, opened conference play by beating Sacramento State soundly 96-82 before losing a home game to Weber State 81-73. The Lumberjacks now have a 6-1 record at home and a 1-6 record away from home. The lone common opponent for the Eagles and Lumberjacks was UNLV -- Eastern lost at UNLV 82-79 on Nov. 14 and NAU was pounded 93-53 there on Dec. 2.

"They are always tough to play in that building," said Burns. "We're going to need a defensive effort for the entire 40 minutes against them that we showed in stretches against Northern Colorado. And we need to come down and execute offensively. If we do those things, we'll be fine."

The Lumberjacks have lots of scoring threats, led by 6-foot-7 forward Ruben Boykin Jr. Through the PSU game, he is averaging 16.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Guard Tyrone Bazy is averaging 14.1 points, Stephen Sir averages 10.9 on 44-of-104 shooting (42 percent) from three-point range and 6-9 Kyle Landry averages 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds on 62 percent shooting. Josh Wilson averages 8.4 points and 6.1 assists and 6-10 Ryan McCurdy chips in 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. Nathan Geiser, the team's seventh-leading scorer with a 5.6 average, scored 27 points in the win over Sacramento State -- which is more than one-third of his total of 73 points for the season.

The Lumberjacks beat EWU 105-95 last Jan. 5 in Flagstaff in a game in which Stuckey scored a school-record 45 points. Eastern defeated the Lumberjacks 73-61 in Cheney on Feb. 4. Eastern trails in the all-time series 20-26 (6-15 in Flagstaff, 13-10 in Cheney, 1-1 neutral), having won six consecutive games from January of 1989 to February of 1991.

Until a 72-65 victory in Flagstaff in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern had lost nine-straight meetings there since Feb. 16, 1991, when a 95-79 victory gave the Eagles a three-game winning streak in Flagstaff. Coupled with a win later in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern swept the regular season meetings with the Lumberjacks for the first time in 10 years. Eastern duplicated that feat in 2003 and 2004.

The Lumberjacks beat EWU 105-95 last Jan. 5 in Flagstaff in a game in which Stuckey scored a school-record 45 points. Eastern defeated the Lumberjacks 73-61 in Cheney on Feb. 4. Eastern trails in the all-time series 20-26 (6-15 in Flagstaff, 13-10 in Cheney, 1-1 neutral), having won six consecutive games from January of 1989 to February of 1991.

Until a 72-65 victory in Flagstaff in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern had lost nine-straight meetings there since Feb. 16, 1991, when a 95-79 victory gave the Eagles a three-game winning streak in Flagstaff. Coupled with a win later in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern swept the regular season meetings with the Lumberjacks for the first time in 10 years. Eastern duplicated that feat in 2003 and 2004.

The Lumberjacks beat EWU 105-95 last Jan. 5 in Flagstaff in a game in which Stuckey scored a school-record 45 points. Eastern defeated the Lumberjacks 73-61 in Cheney on Feb. 4. Eastern trails in the all-time series 20-26 (6-15 in Flagstaff, 13-10 in Cheney, 1-1 neutral), having won six consecutive games from January of 1989 to February of 1991.

Until a 72-65 victory in Flagstaff in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern had lost nine-straight meetings there since Feb. 16, 1991, when a 95-79 victory gave the Eagles a three-game winning streak in Flagstaff. Coupled with a win later in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern swept the regular season meetings with the Lumberjacks for the first time in 10 years. Eastern duplicated that feat in 2003 and 2004.

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