December 9, 2007

Offense Scarce as EWU Falls 58-49 to Idaho

Dec. 9, 2007

Final Stats

Eastern Washington University went 16 minutes without a field goal to help Idaho take an 18-point lead as the Vandals recorded a 58-49 non-conference men's basketball victory over the Eagles Sunday (Dec. 9) at the Cowan Spectrum in Moscow, Idaho.

Idaho used EWU's scoring difficulties to go on a deadly 30-7 run to turn a 14-9 deficit into a 39-21 advantage in the second half. The Eagles rallied to within five with a late 13-2 run, but Idaho scored 12 of the last 20 points to win by nine.

The loss to the Vandals ended EWU's month-long stretch of playing nine of its first 11 games on the road, all since opening the season on Nov. 9. Eastern is now 3-8 heading into a stretch of six-straight home games at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles host Cascade on Friday (Dec. 14) in their next game as the stretch also includes EWU's first Big Sky Conference game of the season at home on Dec. 22 against Portland State.

Idaho snapped a six-game losing streak and is now 2-6 on the season.

Gary Gibson scored a season-high 18 points to lead the Eagles as he made 7-of-14 shots from the field. But the rest of EWU's team was 8-of-34 as EWU finished a frosty 31 percent from the field (15-of-48). The Eagles made just 3-of-16 three-point attempts for 19 percent.

Kellen Williams added his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for the Eagles, who also equaled a season high with 19 turnovers and were out-rebounded 36-31.

Idaho scored the first seven points of the game, but Eastern rallied back with a 14-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 14-9. Eastern led 16-13 with 10:45 left in the half on a basket by Williams.

But in the next 16:10, Eastern managed only single free throws by Marcus Hinton and Matt Brunell. Gibson's basket with 14:35 to play broke EWU's stretch without a field goal, but moments later Idaho took its 39-21 advantage. At that point, Eastern had made just one of its last 21 field goal attempts, with a stretch of 16-straight misses.

Eastern rallied behind a 13-2 run to cut the lead to 46-41 as Williams scored four points in that stretch and Milan Stanojevic had five. But Idaho made eight of its last nine free throws down the stretch to help put the game away.

Eastern now takes on NAIA opponent Cascade at home on Dec. 14 in the first of six-straight games at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Cascade has already exceeded its win total of a year ago, and is 5-4 following a 68-66 victory on Dec. 8 at Pacific.

Then, Eastern plays a non-conference game against West Coast Conference foe Portland (Dec. 17), has its earliest league start in school history when PSU visits on Dec. 22 and then closes out the year by hosting UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 29. League play continues in January with home games against Northern Arizona (Jan. 3) and Sacramento State (Jan. 5). All six games in the homestand begin at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time.

Idaho was coming off a 65-49 loss at Central Arkansas on Wednesday (Dec. 5) in which the Bears used a late 17-3 run to pull away. The Vandals trailed by just six with 12:46 to play, but Idaho missed their next 11 shots as it went more than 11 minutes without a field goal.

The Vandals lost on the road at UC Riverside 56-55 on Nov. 24, just nine days after Eastern rallied at home for a 59-51 win over the Highlanders. The Vandals also lost by 31 points (74-43) on Nov. 16 to a nationally-ranked Washington State team the Eagles lost to by 27 (68-41) on Nov. 9. Idaho lost in overtime to Big Sky member Idaho State 71-69 on Dec. 1, and the lone victory for the Vandals was a 110-52 season-opening victory over Cascade College on Nov. 9.

Eastern had won the last two meetings against Idaho, including a 68-55 victory two years ago in Moscow and an 85-56 win last season in Cheney. Williams scored 11 points two years ago against the Vandals and had a career-high 24 on 9-of-12 shooting from the field in last year's meeting.

Idaho now leads the all-time series 37-11, including a nearly 10-year winning streak. The Vandals won 22-straight games against the Eagles from Nov. 28, 1986, to Feb. 17, 1996, including a 65-62 buzzer beater in the 1990 Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game.

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