January 24, 2009

Portland State Hits 11 Treys in 83-61 Victory Over Eagles

Jan. 24, 2009

Final Stats

 

 

Defending Big Sky Conference champion Portland State exploded for 51 second-half points and romped past Eastern Washington University 83-61 Saturday (Jan. 24) at the Stott Center in Portland, Ore.

 

The Eagles led by seven late in the first half, but were out-scored 24-5 over an eight-minute span to turn that lead into a 12-point deficit. Portland State later went on a 15-0 run to open a 25-point advantage as the Vikings finished the game with an 11-of-30 performance from the three-point stripe.

 

The game marked the halfway point of the league season for EWU, which is now 9-11 overall and 3-5 in the conference. Portland State, the defending Big Sky regular season and tournament champion -- and the favorite to repeat this season -- is now 6-1 in the league and 15-5 overall.

 

“The disappointing thing about the game is that we were right in it in the first half,” said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. “ Other than our 10 turnovers in the first half, we played really hard and we moved the ball. We got the shots we wanted and shot a high percentage. We were playing pretty good and we were playing the kind of basketball I was expecting.

 

“In the second half we kind of deviated from that,” he continued. “That’s a sign of a team’s toughness -- especially when things go bad. Can you stay the course and do what you’re coached to do? We didn’t do that tonight.”

 

The loss was the fourth-straight for Eastern, which hasn’t won since beating Idaho State at home on Jan. 8. The Eagles open the second half of the league season on Thursday (Jan. 29) at Montana State, a team Eastern defeated 61-55 on Dec. 6 to open league play.

 

In the second half, when things started heading downhill for the Eagles, Earlywine thought his team might have tried too hard to stem the tide.

 

“Sometimes that happens -- they want so badly to do well that they do too much,” he explained. “They just need to play to their strengths and stay away from their weaknesses. You need to trust your teammates, trust your coaches and do what you’ve been coached to do. Tonight we didn’t do that, and a couple of players wanted to do a little extra to help the team. We have to learn from it.”

 

Eastern senior Andy Genao had a double-double with a season-high 20 points and 10 rebounds as four Eagles finished in double figures. He made 10-of-12 shots and added a season-high four assists to record his first double-double since getting 14 points and 17 rebounds against UC Irvine on Nov. 19 in EWU’s second game of the season.

 

“We welcomed the real Andy Genao back to the team tonight,” Earlywine said. “He got back to doing what made him successful and helped our team early in the year -- and that was go rebound the ball. Every shot that goes up he needs to look at it as a pass to him, and he did a good job of that tonight. We need him to continue to do that.”

 

Junior Benny Valentine added 13 points, but was just 5-of-16 from the field. Six-foot-9 center Brandon Moore made 6-of-11 shots to finish with 12 points and eight rebounds, and 6-8 Mark Dunn chipped in 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

 

Eastern finished the game with a 49 percent shooting night, its best performance since EWU’s second game of the season when it made 53 percent against UC Irvine. In its last three games, Eastern had made only 37 percent.

 

However, Eastern had 19 turnovers -- just one game after having only five in a 63-50 loss to Montana on Jan. 21. They were the second-most EWU has had this season, ranking only behind the 22 the Eagles had at Washington on Dec. 20.

 

“They were turnovers that broke our back,” said Earlywine. “If we just hang on to the ball, we were getting good shots. But when you throw the ball to the other team, it’s hard to design a defense to stop them. It’s hard to get back there and stop them on the other end.”

 

Portland State sophomore Phil Nelson, a transfer from the University of Washington, led the Vikings with 22 points, including four three-pointers. Portland State made 56 percent of its shots from the field and had four players score in double figures. It also out-scored Eastern in points off turnovers 31-14 and bench points 32-0.

 

“Those shots are certainly easier when they are wide open,” said Earlywine of PSU’s shooting percentage. “When we turned the ball over, we can’t get our defense back and Portland State does a good job of having multiple ball-handlers in transition. They caught us not being able to get getting matched-up, and Nelson got open shots that he knocked in.”

 

The game was close early before four different Eagles contributed to a 9-0 run that gave the Eagles a 31-24 lead with 4:08 left in the half. But Eastern managed just five points in the next 8:02, and fell behind 48-36 early in the second half. Later in the half, Eastern went scoreless for 5:06 as PSU used a 15-0 run to open a 70-45 advantage.

 

The turning point in the game came in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half when the Eagles had four turnovers.

 

“That was the game,” Earlywine added. “After that happened we just weren’t tough enough to right ourselves.”

 

 

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