Nov. 27, 2006
Sophomore Rodney Stuckey led the way with 27 points, but it was his hot-shooting teammates that led Eastern Washington to a 110-100 victory over Cal State Fullerton in a shootout Monday (Nov. 27) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern's 110 points was the 13th-most in school history and the third-most versus a NCAA Division I opponent. The only other times Eastern scored more versus a D-I opponent were both against U.S. International (118-83 on Feb. 2, 1991 and 116-82 on Feb. 8, 1986).
The combined 210 points made it the fifth-highest scoring game in school history. The record was 225 in a 118-107 loss to Carroll College on Dec. 8, 1967.
The Eagles are now 3-3 this season while Cal State Fullerton lost its first game in five tries this season. The meeting between the Eagles and Titans was a return game from last year when the Eagles played on the road as part of the ESPN BracketBusters weekend.
On Wednesday (Nov. 29), the Eagles host Eastern Oregon, a NAIA Division II opponent from LaGrande, Ore. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m.
Stuckey led Eastern in scoring for the 33rd-straight game and added nine assists and five steals. However, he was just 11-of-25 from the field while the rest of his teammates made 33-of-47 for 70 percent. As a team, Eastern shot a blistering 61 percent from the field as six players scored in double figures.
"I think that having so many guys in double figures speaks volumes of the quality of players we have on our team and their unselfishness," said Eagle head coach Mike Burns. "We had 16 assists in the first half, which is a phenomenal number for a single half. We want to play fast, so when we play another team that plays fast and are able to pull a victory out under those circumstances, it is huge."
Senior center Paul Butorac had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. Senior Derek Risper had a career-high 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting, and added seven rebounds. Eastern out-rebounded Cal State Fullerton 37-28 and the Eagles had 12 offensive rebounds.
"One thing Rodney Stuckey does is draw a lot of attention from the opposing team and that creates space for the rest of the team to make plays," said Burns. "We ask Rodney to take a lot of shots, and there are times when we want him taking difficult shots that will open up the offensive rebounding opportunities for guys like Derek Risper, Brandon Moore, and Paul Butorac. He will draw enough attention that those guys will be able to finish the play off the glass."
In the backcourt, Omar Krayem scored 11 and chipped in seven assists and six rebounds. Matt Penoncello came off the bench to score 12 points and dish out a career-high seven assists as Eastern came three assists shy of the school record of 33.
"We have asked Matt Penoncello to come off the bench for us and he has not only accepted that role, but he has played great for us," said Burns. "He was huge tonight -- his defense, perhaps even more than his offense, was great."
Eastern fell behind in the first half by 15 points, but used a 10-0 run to erase the deficit and a 14-9 run to take the lead. Eastern trailed by two at halftime, then fell behind by eight to start the second half.
A 12-0 run helped turn Eastern's deficit into an advantage. Tied at 81, Eastern took the lead for good with a 6-1 run, then led by as many as 11 on three occasions down the stretch. The Eagles were coming off a near-miss in a 90-83 loss at Washington three days earlier on Nov. 24.
"I thought defensively we were a little sluggish in the first half," said Burns. "They are so quick and shoot so well that you have to be able to recover faster on defense and we didn't do that in the first half. But we got it done in the second half and I'm really proud of our guys for responding the way they did tonight after playing Washington on Friday. Our guys have played a few games in a short period of time so our guys are a little fatigued. They did a great job of sucking it up and finishing strong tonight."
The Titans were led by the 20 points each of Bobby Brown and Ray Reed as five Titans scored in double figures. Brown, who averaged 17.5 points per game as a junior, had averaged 24.7 points in three previous meetings versus EWU -- all victories for Cal State Fullerton.
"This was a great win for us tonight," added Burns. "Cal State Fullerton was 4-0 coming in here and they just added Scott Cutley, Frank Robinson, and Bobby Brown. It was huge. We have to defend our home court and this was probably the most athletic group we will face for the rest of the year, outside of Oregon. So to get ourselves out of that 15 point deficit in the first half was huge."
Eastern's next outing is versus an Eastern Oregon team that won its first seven games of the season and is currently 8-1.
"Eastern Oregon is 8-1 right now, they are very well coached, and they have beaten some great basketball teams," said Burns. "If we don't come out focused and ready to go in that one it could easily become a loss."