Dec. 14, 2007
Eastern Washington University set a school record with 16 three-pointers as the Eagles cruised to a 91-59 victory over Cascade College Friday (Dec. 14) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Seven Eagles scored in double figures as EWU improved to 4-8 heading into next Monday's (Dec. 17) non-conference game against Portland. The following Saturday (Dec. 22), Eastern opens Big Sky Conference play at home versus Portland State.
Cascade is now 5-4, but the Thunderbirds won just four games the entire 2006-07 season. Friday's game was just the third home game in 12 games for EWU, which is now 2-1 at Reese Court thus far after playing nine of its first 11 on the road.
Eastern scored 60 points in the first half against the Thunderbirds en route to a 30-point advantage at halftime. Eastern had scored just 17 points in the first half of its previous game in a 58-49 road loss at Idaho.
Junior guard Adris DeLeon led the way against Cascade with 15 points, five assists and four steals, with senior Kellen Williams adding 14 points and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes of action. Williams came a single rebound from what could have been his third-straight double-double and fifth of the season.
Junior Milan Stanojevic and true freshman Trey Gross each added 13 points. Gross made 5-of-6 shots from the field and also had four steals.
"We don't have a guy that's going to be the 15th pick in the NBA Draft and we don't have a guy that's going to get 20 points every night," said first-year Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine, referring to former EWU standout and current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey. "I think we have several guys that can get 20 points on any given night. We have to share the ball and can't focus on getting the ball to one guy. We did that tonight."
Six different players contributed toward breaking the previous school record of 15 treys set on Jan. 2, 1999, versus Idaho State. Eastern made 16-of-27 in the game for 59 percent, including 10-of-17 in the first half for 59 percent.
"Our perimeter shooting was mostly a product of us sharing the ball -- the fact that we moved the ball and we made extra passes that got us really good shots," said Earlywine. "I was happy that we passed up some good shots to get an even better look. That was encouraging -- our ball movement and unselfishness were terrific."
The Eagles had 16 assists on 28 baskets in the game. Eastern also made 19-of-27 free throws, forced 22 turnovers and out-rebounded Cascade 40-27. The Eagles had 20 offensive rebounds leading to 21 second chance points.
"For the last three days offensive rebounds have been a big point of emphasis for us," said Earlywine. "We have been struggling from the field and that's going to happen some nights. We try to get 33 percent -- one-third of our missed shots in offensive rebounds. We pulled down 20 offensive rebounds tonight on 35 misses, which is a terrific percentage."
The game versus the Thunderbirds starts a stretch to end the calendar year in which EWU will play four times in a 16-day span. Those four opponents have a combined record of 24-16 thus far.
The Eagles were coming off a disappointing 58-48 loss at Idaho on Dec. 9. That ended a four-game stretch in which EWU was 1-3, with the lone win an impressive 65-54 victory at Missouri-Kansas City on Dec. 3.
Eastern took an early 16-13 lead against the 1-6 Vandals, but then had an almost unimaginable offensive drought in which EWU went 16:10 without a field goal and missed 16-straight shots from the field. That came after falling behind early by a 7-0 score.
On Monday, Eastern plays a University of Portland team that is just 3-6 overall, but is coming off a last-second, 58-57 win at Montana. Sophomore guard Nik Raivio, the brother of former Gonzaga standout Derek Raivio, hit a three-point shot with seven seconds remaining for the Pilots, who play at Washington on Dec. 15 before coming to Cheney.
After that game, Eastern plays a 7-4 Portland State team on Dec. 22 in the league opener for both schools. It is the earliest Big Sky start in school history for the Eagles, who are picked to finish last or second-to-last in the league. The Vikings, along with Montana and Weber State, are considered to be one of the top three teams in the Big Sky Conference in the 2007-08 season.
Portland State is coming off a 72-60 loss at Washington State on Dec. 9, and beat Cal Poly 74-66 at home on Dec. 12. The Vikings play at Washington (Dec. 18 in Seattle) before taking on the Eagles.
And to close out the calendar year, Eastern gets to host Cal State Santa Barbara in a return game from the ESPN BracketBuster game EWU played in California last year. The Eagles edged the Gauchos 71-70 late last season, but this season UCSB has won nine of 10 games with a seven-game winning streak heading into road games at Ball State on Dec. 19 and North Carolina on Dec. 22 prior to playing at EWU.
League play continues in January for EWU 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.
Eastern is coming off a 15-14 finish to the 2006-07 season as the last three EWU seasons have yielded a collective record of 38-49. The Eagles had their string of consecutive Big Sky Conference Tournament berths snapped at nine last season as EWU finished with an 8-8 league record.