December 20, 2008

After Big First Half, Washington Beats Eagles 83-50

Dec. 20, 2008

Final Stats

An eight minute stretch told the story as Eastern Washington University was out-scored 21-3 in the first half by Washington as the Huskies defeated the Eagles 83-50 in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday (Dec. 20) at Bank of America Arena in Seattle, Wash.

Eastern had just one field goal during that 8:22 stretch to turn a 15-all tie into a 36-18 advantage for the Huskies. Washington led at halftime by 42-22, and by no fewer than 14 in the second half to improve to 7-3 on the season.

"There wasn’t anything different that happened out there -- we just started to wear down," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine of Washington’s first-half run. "They had more horses -- they had thoroughbreds and for the last six or seven minutes we looked like Clydesdales. They had bigger and better athletes at every spot than we did and eventually it showed."

The Eagles had another stretch of 5:03 without a point in the second half as UW led by as many as 37. Eastern, which is scheduled to return home to face Evergreen State on Monday (Dec. 22) at 7:05 p.m. at Reese Court, is now 6-5 with a three-game losing streak.

Eastern junior college transfer Chris Busch, in just his third game since becoming eligible, scored 13 points to lead the Eagles against Washington. He was the only EWU player in double figures, with Benny Valentine adding seven, all in the second half.

Eastern made only 36 percent of their shots from the field, but finished with a season-high 22 turnovers that UW turned into 25 points. Washington, which had 13 steals and eight blocked shots, made 54 percent of its shots. The Huskies also made 21-of-35 free throws compared to just 1-of-6 for the Eagles.

"When we did start to make a little bit of a run we couldn’t sustain it," said Earlywine. "In the end they made five more baskets than we did and we made one more from the arc than they did. So from the field we were out-scored by only nine points. But when you are out-scored by 20 from the free throw line, that is too much to overcome."

Eastern was only out-rebounded by the Huskies by five, 39-34, and actually had more offensive rebounds (11) than UW (10). Washington entered the game averaging 14 more rebounds per game than their opponents.

"I was pleased (with our rebounding) and I told the players that," said Earlywine. "Physically, I thought we competed and were out-rebounded by five against the fifth-best rebounding team in the country. Now we have to continue to bring that kind of effort on the boards."

Eastern missed 13 of its last 17 shots of the first half against the Huskies, who made 10 of their last 16. Washington had eight steals, six blocked shots and forced 13 turnovers in the first half. True freshman Isaiah Thomas had 12 of Washington’s points in the first half as he single-handedly out-scored EWU’s starting five.

Jon Brockman finished with 17 points and five rebounds for the Huskies after getting 26 points and eight rebounds in last year’s meeting against EWU. Thomas and Justin Dentmon each added 13.

"I don’t feel nearly as bad as I felt after the Minnesota game and the second half against Illinois. In both of those games I thought we physically were out-competed and backed down. Right up until the last possession tonight, we didn’t back down and I’m happy in that regard.

Eastern is now winless in the first two of three games in a five-day span to end its pre-Christmas schedule. Before the loss to the Huskies, EWU fell to Missouri-Kansas City 68-61 on Thursday (Dec. 18).

Next Monday’s opponent, Evergreen State, is 7-2 on the season after defeating Oregon Tech 82-68 on Saturday (Dec. 20). A game scheduled against Southern Oregon on Dec. 19 was postponed. The Geoducks are a member of NAIA Division II and the Cascade Collegiate Conference where they are currently 3-0. Last season, Evergreen State was 21-8 overall and 14-6 in the CAA under first-year head coach Jeff Drinkwine.

Eastern’s 6-2 record after the first eight games was its best start since the 2002-03 season when EWU used a four-game winning streak to improve to 7-2. Eastern was unable to duplicate that 7-2 start by losing at Hawaii on Dec. 13, but Eastern is still 1-0 in the Big Sky after a 66-51 victory against Montana State on Dec. 6 that represents the earliest Big Sky start in EWU history.

Earlywine is in his second season at the helm after leading the Eagles to an 11-19 record overall and 6-10 Big Sky Conference mark last season. Season tickets, including several packages with selected games, are now on sale. Information is available at http://WWW.GOEAGS.COM.

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