Senior Benny Valentine scores 18 first-half points as EWU takes 26-point lead at intermission
Senior guard Benny Valentine scored 18 first-half points in helping Eastern Washington University open a 54-28 lead at halftime as the Eagles defeated Saint Martin's 98-61 in an exhibition basketball game Sunday (Nov. 1) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles play Montana State-Billings in another exhibition next Sunday (Nov. 8) at Reese Court at 1:05 p.m. Eastern officially opens its season at home on Saturday, Nov. 14 versus Portland.
Eastern finished the game with 39 fast-break points, 30 points off turnovers and 50 points inside the paint.
"I thought it was a good start for us," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "Our energy level defensively was good for the most part. Obviously, we have more speed and quickness on the perimeter than we've had the last couple of years. That was a major factor in the game, and our speed and quickness really affected them."
Valentine finished with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 shooting from the three-point stripe Freshman redshirt guard Kevin Winford also had 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting with five three-pointers, and chipped in three assists and four steals.
A pair of true freshmen had impressive debuts for the Eagles. Glen Dean had nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals, and Jeffrey Forbes added nine points and seven assists.
"I thought our three freshman guards played really well in the first half," said Earlywine. "At halftime they had nine assists and only one turnover. Winford shot it well and Dean is a terrific stabilizing factor for us at point guard. He allows us to play Benny as a two-guard, which is really what Benny is."
Newcomer Laron Griffin, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, scored 14 points and had eight rebounds with a pair of blocked shots. Eastern finished the game making 57 percent from the field, out-rebounded the Saints 40-31 and forced 22 turnovers while having just 17 themselves.
"Laron affected the game with his length, which we were hoping would be the case," Earlywine added. "And the athletic ability of Alden Gibbs was a factor as well. Those five new players played well."
The Eagles used a 20-6 run to open a 12-point lead in the first eight minutes, then continued to build its lead after that. Valentine made 7-of-9 shots in the first half, including 4-of-5 three-pointers. Winford added three treys as Eastern made 8-of-12 in the half. Overall, Eastern out-shot the Saints 58 percent to 28 percent in the first half.
Eastern led by as many as 45 points in the second half at 91-46.