Eastern Looks for Victories Tuesday and Wednesday

With debacle at BYU behind them, Eagles are hoping for better luck against teams with a combined 4-25 record

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Upcoming Schedule

Date - Opponent - Spokane Radio Station - Time/Pacific
Dec. 22 - vs. Chicago State at Hoop TV Las Vegas Classic - 1510am - 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 23 - vs. Wagner or Jackson State at Hoop TV Las Vegas Classic - 1510am - Noon or 2:30 p.m.
Dec. 28 - at Gonzaga - 1050am - 6:05 p.m.

Eagles on TV/Radio/Webcasts . . .
All EWU home games will be televised live and/or delayed on SWX in Spokane (SWX Digital 6.2, Cheney Cable 12, Comcast 115, Time Warner 306, Charter 287). Eagle Radio Broadcasts home and away in 2009-10 may be heard live, and stations in Spokane/Cheney that may be used are 1510-AM, 1050-AM or 790-AM. Broadcasts may also be heard via the internet -- road games may be heard free of charge via WWW.TEAMLINE.CC and the audio and video of home games may also be heard via WWW.BIGSKYTV.ORG


It's unwise to go to Las Vegas with high expectations for big winnings, but the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team must like its odds.

The Eagles are hoping a 57-point loss at Brigham Young was an aberration as the Eagles re-group for a pair of winnable games this Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 22-23) at the Hoop TV Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena (Dec. 22-23). Eastern will play a pair of games among a trio of NCAA Division I teams which are a collective 4-25 on the season.

Eastern will take on Chicago State Tuesday in a game scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Pacific time. The Cougars, a member of the Great West Conference, are 3-7 and have lost their last six games since defeating Saint Xavier 82-66 on Nov. 21.

The Eagles will then turnaround less than 24 hours later and play an afternoon game versus either Wagner (1-9) or Jackson State (0-9). If Eastern wins Tuesday, it plays at 2:30 p.m. the next day. If the Eagles, currently 4-7 and riding a two-game losing streak, lose on Tuesday, they play Wednesday at noon.

Eastern's games will be aired via radio in the Spokane area on 1510-AM, with the broadcasts available at www.teamline.cc. All games in the tournament will be available via webcast at www.hooptv.net.

Getting over the 91-34 loss at BYU will be the first order of business Tuesday. The Eagles scored the first basket against the Cougars, and then were out-scored 33-0 over the next 10 minutes.

"I hope this was an exception and we'll get back to work and be ready for Chicago State," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said after the BYU game in which his team was out-shot 64 percent to 27 percent, and was out-rebounded 45-17.

Following a short Christmas break, the Eagles play at nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Dec. 28 in the team's first game against a nationally-ranked foe in two seasons. Eastern then hosts Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference game on Dec. 31 at 3:05 p.m., which will be EWU's first home game since defeating Seattle University 100-97 in overtime on Dec. 12.

Eastern faced a grueling early-season schedule with eight games in a 22-day span. The Eagles then had a week off for fall quarter final exams at EWU before facing the full-court pressure of a very athletic and talented Seattle University team. Despite playing with four freshmen at times in their lineup, the Eagles had just 15 turnovers in the game and used a 7-0 run in overtime to prevail 100-97. Eastern followed that with a hard-fought 73-70 loss at Nevada on Dec. 17 in which Eastern lost on a Wolf Pack three-pointer with 4.3 seconds remaining.

The Nevada game featured 15 ties and seven lead changes, with the Seattle game including 12 ties and seven lead changes. The BYU game had just one lead change as the Cougars went on a 33-0 run after EWU scored the first basket of the game. The 57-point setback was not the worst in school history -- EWU lost at New Mexico by 59 points, 121-62, on Dec. 3, 1993.

 

Hoop TV Las Vegas Classic Fan Information: Tickets, as well as travel packages and other information for the Hoop TV Las Vegas Classic, are available at: http://www.vegas.com/hoops/classic.html. Webcasts of each game are available at: http://www.hooptv.net

 

Links:
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/ewas-m-baskbl-body.html
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/sport.asp?path=mbball&tab=mens
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-m-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/scoreboard
Rodney Stuckey NBA Page -- http://www.nba.com/playerfile/rodney_stuckey/index.html
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM

Recent EWU Men's Basketball Headlines . . .
December 19, 2009 - Eagles Thumped by Brigham Young 91-34
December 17, 2009 - Eagles Lose Nip-and-Tuck Game 73-70
December 12, 2009 - Eagles Prevail 100-97 in Overtime Versus Seattle
December 5, 2009 - Eastern Dealt 98-75 Loss by Portland State in BSC Opener
December 1, 2009 - Eastern Romps Past Walla Walla 89-61
November 28, 2009 - Eagles Drop 76-54 Decision to Idaho
November 24, 2009 - Eastern Falls at Home to Boise State 82-69
November 21, 2009 - Freshman Jeffrey Forbes Scores 24 in Eagle Win
November 17, 2009 - Eastern Survives for 100-88 Victory Over Whitman
November 16, 2009 - Eagles Start and Finish Fast, But Fall to Cougars 67-61
November 14, 2009 - Eastern Loses Opener to Portland 64-58
November 8, 2009 - Eastern Pulls Away for 67-58 Exhibition Win
November 4, 2009 - Eagles Face Larger Challenge in Second Exhibition This Sunday
November 1, 2009 - Eagles Roll Past Saint Martin's 98-61
October 23, 2009 - SEASON OUTLOOK

 

TEAM NOTES

The Dunn and Dean Show: Senior Mark Dunn and freshman Glen Dean have each had six double figure scoring performances this season, and they combined for 28 points in EWU's loss at Nevada on Dec. 17. Dunn leads the team in scoring with an average of 12.8 points per game, and is shooting a team-best 55.3 percent from the field. Dean is averaging 9.6 points and leads EWU with an average of 4.1 assists per game.

Dean had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 10 assists in Eastern's three-point loss at Nevada on Dec. 17, earning high praise from head coach Kirk Earlywine. Dean equaled the 14th-best recorded assists total in school history, and was the most since Rodney Stuckey (now with Detroit Pistons) had 10 versus Idaho State on Feb. 22, 2007.

"I couldn't ask for anything more from Glen Dean -- I thought he was spectacular," said Earlywine of the 2008 graduate of Seattle's Roosevelt High School. "Glen was terrific tonight."

Dunn, who has scored at least 20 points three times this season, had two of the highest-scoring games in his Eastern career in back-to-back nights versus Washington State (Nov. 16) and Whitman (Nov. 17). He had 17 points versus the Cougars, making 7-of-9 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 three-point attempts. The next night he made 7-of-12 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws to finish with 21 points.

Before this season, his previous career high was 14 points in games against Montana and Weber State last season on his way to an average of 5.6 points per game as a 24-game starter. However, he made only 2-of-11 three-pointers in his previous 31 games as an Eagle. He helped lead Danville Area Junior College to a fourth-place finish at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament as a sophomore in the 2007-08 season. He averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds that season, with a season-high of 19. As a freshman, he averaged four points and four boards.

 

Brandon Moore Selected as Big Sky Player of the Week: Eastern Washington University senior 6-foot-9 center Brandon Moore was selected as the co-Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 14, sharing the honor with Portland State's Phil Nelson. It's the first such honor of Moore's EWU career, which currently totals 97 games (including 55 starts) heading into Tuesday's (Dec. 22) game against Chicago State.

Moore had a career-best 26-point effort against Seattle University on Dec. 12 in which he made 10-of-19 shots from the field and 6-of-7 free throws in the 100-97 overtime win. Four of his points came in a 7-0 run in overtime, and he also finished the game with 11 rebounds and a career-high four assists. His previous career high for points came as a freshman against The Evergreen State with 23 points.

A 2005 graduate of Bethel High School in Graham, Wash., Moore is currently third in the Big Sky in rebounding, although his average slipped from a league-high 9.9 to a current average of 8.3 when he had just one at Nevada on Nov. 17 and three at BYU on Nov. 19. He is also averaging 11.7 points per game as he has started his senior season with three double-doubles thus far.

Moore has 831 career points, as well as 556 rebounds to rank fifth in school history (Chris White is fourth with 620 from 1998-01). His 70 career blocked shots ranks him third in school history (White is second with 79).

Now with nine double-doubles in his career, Moore had the seventh and eighth double-doubles of his career en route to having a combined 29 points and 32 rebounds in a roughly 26-hour span in November. He had 10 points and 13 rebounds in a 67-61 loss to Washington State on Nov. 16, then had 19 points and 19 rebounds the next night in a 100-88 win over Whitman.

Moore's 19 rebounds ranks as the third-best performance in recorded school history. His previous career high for rebounds was 14 versus Portland State on Feb. 28, 2009. He also tied his career-high with five blocked shots against the Missionaries, equaling the second-best recorded performance in school history.

 

Hitting the Century Mark: The Whitman game on Nov. 17 was the 61st time in school history that Eastern has scored 100 points in a game. Eastern then scored 100 in a 100-97 overtime victory over Seattle University on Dec. 12.

Before this season, the last time EWU hit the century mark came in a 100-85 victory over Sacramento State on Jan. 25, 2007, in which current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored 31 points. Eastern had four 100-point performances that season and averaged 84.2 points per game as Stuckey finished his sophomore season with an average of 24.6 points per game.

 

Eagles Spend First Month Dealing with Injuries: The heavy schedule and five injuries in November did not allow the Eagles to have as productive of practices as head coach Kirk Earlywine would like. But that has changed recently as EWU has become healthy again.

The Eagles spent the first month of the season dealing with injuries to five Eagles -- Gary Gibson (knees), Brandon Moore (foot and ankle), Abebe Demissie (hamstring), Kevin Winford (concussion) and Matthew Brunell (ankle). The missed time has impacted Eastern not only in games, but in practice.

"We've already had a season's worth of bad luck," said Earlywine before Eastern's league opener on Dec. 5. "Hopefully we're close to being through it and we don't have any more. It's been hard, and it's been hard because you can't practice effectively."

Brunell and Winford suffered their injuries in the second game of the season, and Moore missed the Walla Walla game and parts of another with a sprained ankle. Moore also missed much of the preseason because of a foot injury that required minor surgery. Brunell missed five full games and parts of two others; Gibson missed six games; and Winford missed two.

 

Eagles Face Three Players Ranked in Top Five Nationally in Scoring: Eastern's first nine games of the season included a trio of opposing players ranked among the top five scorers in NCAA Division I. And one of them the Eagles will have to face again on Feb. 1.

Through games of Dec. 13, Marquez Haynes from Texas Arlington was averaging 25.7 points per game to rank second nationally, Washington State's Klay Thompson was third with a 25.1 average and Charles Garcia was fifth at 24.6. Thompson scored 24 against the Eagles and Haynes had 32, but the Eagles held Garcia to just 12 on 4-of-12 shooting from the field and 4-of-9 from the free throw line.

But Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine was even more impressed by Nevada's Luke Babbitt, who made 10-of-18 shots to finish with 29 points and nine rebounds on Dec. 17 against EWU. He had entered the game averaging 18.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

"We've played three of the top five scorers in the country, but I think Babbitt is by far the best player we've played against," praised Earlywine. "He had a couple of easy baskets against us, but not very many. He made 10 baskets against us, and I would say eight of them were pro-level shots -- they were 16-foot fadeaways. He has incredibly long arms and we can't do anything to stop those buckets. He made tough shots and he's good -- very, very good. My hat is off to him."

A transfer from Riverside Community College and originally from Los Angeles, Calif., Garcia has helped the Redhawks become a force to reckon with in just their second year as a member of NCAA Division I. A year ago, in the first meeting between the two schools in more than 23 years, Seattle pulled out a 63-59 overtime victory. The two schools will play again later this season on Feb. 1 at Key Arena in Seattle.

"We knew we had our hands full against Garcia," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said after the game. "To be honest, I didn't know if we could hold him to below 20 because he's so big and so skilled. The one thing we wanted to do was to keep him off the free throw line -- we wanted to hold him to single digit free throw attempts. We wanted to make him earn his baskets with jump shots, and for the most part we did that."

Garcia had scored 41 points in an 84-83 loss to Wofford College, and had four double-doubles in his first nine games of the season -- Weber State (27 points/11 rebounds), Fresno State (21/12), Cal Poly (26/16) and UC Davis (22/12).

"He's legit -- he's a first-round draft pick," complimented Earlywine before the game. "He's 6-10 and he handles it like (Houston Rockets 6-8 guard/forward) Tracy McGrady. He can shoot the ball and drive it -- he's putting up 20 and 10 numbers against every team he faces, including on the road. He had 41 the other night. He's the real deal."

 

SERIES HISTORY

EWU versus Chicago State, Wagner and Jackson State: Eastern has played Chicago State twice before, but has never played Wagner or Jackson State. Eastern defeated Chicago State 67-66 at home on Feb. 2, 1985, and then lost on the road two years later 83-71.

2/2/85           W         Chicago State   67-66    H
1/10/87         L          Chicago State   71-83    A

 

EWU versus Gonzaga Series History: Eastern has lost the last 21 meetings against Gonzaga, with the last Eastern win in the series coming on Jan. 8, 1990, in Spokane by a 70-55 score. Eastern is 5-31 versus Gonzaga since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, including a 2-14 record at Gonzaga, 2-12 mark in Cheney and 1-5 record on neutral courts. The two teams paired off in the Inland Empire Classic at the old Spokane Coliseum in November of 1986 and 1987. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 50-7.

12/7/83         L          Gonzaga           57-86    A
1/10/84         L          Gonzaga           80-91    H
2/5/85           L          Gonzaga           52-62    A
2/11/85         W         Gonzaga           66-63    H
1/10/86         W         Gonzaga           56-54    H
2/12/86         W         Gonzaga           60-58    A
11/29/86       W         Gonzaga           62-60    3
12/20/86       L          Gonzaga           58-87    A
1/20/87         L          Gonzaga           69-79    H
11/28/87       L          Gonzaga           61-82    5
12/5/87         L          Gonzaga           63-75    A
1/5/88           L          Gonzaga           68-88    H
12/1/88         L          Gonzaga           63-75    H
12/10/88       L          Gonzaga           68-70    A
1/8/90           W         Gonzaga           70-55    A
12/13/90       L          Gonzaga           67-108  H
12/15/90       L          Gonzaga           63-81    A
12/15/91       L          Gonzaga           67-74    A
1/4/92           L          Gonzaga           49-67    H
12/23/92       L          Gonzaga           50-71    A
1/9/93           L          Gonzaga           68-73    H
12/11/93       L          Gonzaga           54-99    A
12/22/94       L          Gonzaga           58-68    H
12/22/95       L          Gonzaga           55-68    A
1/5/96           L          Gonzaga           53-63    H
12/21/96       L          Gonzaga           65-80    H
12/14/97       L          Gonzaga           78-100  A
11/30/98       L          Gonzaga           59-81    H
11/26/99       L          Gonzaga           47-81    A
11/17/00       L          Gonzaga           65-74    H
12/4/01         L          Gonzaga           74-84 OT           A
12/22/02       L          Gonzaga           64-67    34
12/31/03       L          Gonzaga           49-70    34
12/21/04       L          Gonzaga           70-83    34
12/19/05       L          Gonzaga           65-75    34
11/10/06       L          Gonzaga           75-90    A

3 -- Inland Empire Classic at the Spokane Coliseum; 5 -- Inland Empire Classic at the Spokane Coliseum; 34 -- Played at the Spokane Arena

  

SEASON NOTES

EWU Season Recap Thus Far -- Eastern opened the season with a 64-58 loss to Portland on Nov. 14 after a pair of exhibition wins (98-61 over Saint Martin's and 67-58 over Montana State-Billings). The Eagles lost by just six points despite making only 32 percent from the field (15-of-47), allowing Portland to make 7-of-13 three-pointers and getting out-rebounded 37-24.

"I liked our shots -- we just didn't make them," said head coach Kirk Earlywine. "It's hard to win when you compound getting out-rebounded with giving up 54 percent from the arc and pile on top of that shooting 32 percent. Really, it's surprising that we were in the game with a chance."

The Eagles followed that with a 67-61 loss at Pacific 10 Conference member Washington State. The Eagles, who had a 17-9 lead early in the game, rallied with a 15-5 run late in the game to pull within one at 62-61 with 1:04 left. But the Cougars sandwiched a three-pointer and two free throws in the final 44 seconds around an Eagle turnover to score the final five points of the game.

The following night in a 100-88 helter-skelter victory over NCAA Division III Whitman College, Eastern made 50 percent of its shots from the field, had a 54-35 rebounding advantage and scored 56 points inside the paint. However, EWU finished with 30 turnovers to come one away from the school record of 31 against Washington in 1995. The game included 49 total turnovers, 56 total fouls (30 by Whitman) and 79 total free throws.

Despite playing its fourth game in eight days, the Eagles registered a 72-68 road victory at Texas Arlington on Nov. 21. Freshman Jeffrey Forbes had 24 points as the Eagles led from start to finish, opening a 16-point lead in the first half.

The Eagles followed that with an 82-69 home loss to Boise State as the Broncos took a 10-0 lead with eight early fast-break points. After BSU led by 14 at halftime, Eastern cut the lead to one in the second half. But eight-straight Bronco points helped put the lead out of reach as they equaled their biggest lead of 14 twice.

The Idaho game on Nov. 28 followed a similar pattern as the Eagles fell behind by scores of 12-3 and 36-15, and trailed at halftime 45-23. Both teams scored 31 points in the second half, and the game earlier EWU actually out-scored Boise State 39-38 after intermission.

The Eagles led from start to finish in their 89-61 victory on Dec. 1 against Walla Walla University, with Mark Dunn scoring 17 of his career-high 23 points in the first half. In the following game against Portland State on Dec. 5, the Eagles had no answer for the 69 percent shooting night by Portland State and fell 98-75. The Vikings made 33-of-48 shots in the game, including a blistering 16-of-21 in the first half as EWU allowed its most points in nearly three years. Portland State used a 12-0 run in the first half to take the lead for good, and then scored 10 unanswered points in the second half to pull away.

The Eagles followed the PSU game with a week off, and then recorded a 100-97 overtime home victory over Seattle University on Dec. 12. The game featured 12 lead changes and seven ties, and the final time the game was knotted was at 87-all with 3:01 to play in overtime. But EWU's Glen Dean hit a driving layin, followed by a pair of baskets by Brandon Moore. Dean closed the 7-0 run with a free throw to give EWU a 94-87 advantage with 1:09 to play. Eastern, which had forced the overtime with a basket with 10 seconds to play in regulation by Dunn, closed the scoring in overtime with a pair of free throws by Kevin Winford with seven seconds left.

Eastern didn't have the same late-game magic against Nevada on Dec. 17, as Nevada's Brandon Fields nailed a three-pointer with 4.3 seconds to play to defeat Eastern 73-70. Freshman guard Glen Dean, who finished with 13 points and 10 assists for the Eagles, missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer in a game that featured 15 ties and seven lead changes. Eastern missed four of its last five shots, including a pair with the game knotted at 70.

The Eagles then followed with a 91-34 loss at BYU. The Eagles scored the first basket against the Cougars, and then were out-scored 33-0 over the next 10 minutes. Eastern was out-shot 64 percent to 27 percent, and were out-rebounded 45-17.

 

Eagles Versus Ranked Teams: The 2008-09 season was the first time 2002-03 that Eastern did not play a nationally-ranked team. The Eagles played 12 such games in the five seasons before that.

Eastern is 1-14 versus nationally-ranked teams -- including three games in the 2004-05 season alone as well as three the year before. Seven of the 13 games came under former head coach Mike Burns and five others came under Ray Giacoletti from 2000-2004.
12/5/07 vs. #3 Kansas - L, 47-85
11/9/07 vs. #10 Washington State - L, 41-68
12/15/06 vs. #22 Oregon - L, 74-100
11/24/06 vs. #16 Washington - L, 83-90
12/19/05 vs. #8 Gonzaga - L, 65-75
12/16/05 vs. #11 Washington - L, 74-91
12/28/04 vs. #14 Arizona - L, 45-79
12/21/04 vs. #13 Gonzaga - L, 70-83
12/5/04 vs. #14 Washington - L, 56-89
3/19/04 vs. #3 Oklahoma State - L, 56-75
12/31/03 vs. #16 Gonzaga - L, 49-70
11/21/03 vs. #14 Oklahoma - L, 59-69
11/15/01 vs. #10 St. Joseph's - W, 68-67
11/25/00 vs. #4 Michigan State - L, 61-83
1/21/85 vs. #10 DePaul - L, 50-72

 

Eagles Now 2-1 in December League Openers: The Dec. 5 start to league play in a 98-75 loss at Portland State represented the earliest Big Sky Conference opener in school history. Last year, the Eagles opened league play on Dec. 6 with a 61-55 home win over Montana State, and the previous season opened on Dec. 22 with a 58-57 home victory over Portland State. However, both seasons the Eagles failed to qualify for the six-team Big Sky Conference Tournament.

Eastern, picked to finish eighth in the league race by both the media and coaches, took on PSU in its first league game. The Vikings were selected to finish second by the media and fourth by the coaches. Despite EWU's success in its opener the last two years, Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine would much rather open league play in the more traditional month of January, not just a few weeks into the season.

"I've made my feelings pretty well known about playing the first conference game in early December," he explained. "But we've actually been ready to play that game the last two seasons. I shouldn't be too critical because we've won our opener each of the past two years."

Following the PSU game, Eastern will resume league play on Dec. 31. Eastern is hoping its five senior letter winners and talented newcomers will help the Eagles earn their first Big Sky Conference Tournament berth in four seasons when that event takes place on March 6, 9 and 10. However, Earlywine expects several other league teams to feature even more returning starters and experience.

"The league is going to be very, very good," he said. "Top to bottom, it may be as good as it's been in the last 10 years. I told our team after our last game last season that our challenge was to go catch the other teams in the league. Nobody is backing up, so we have to go catch them. Our focus has been on doing what we have to do to improve and not count on other teams to stub their toe."

Earlywine has been in the Big Sky Conference for nearly 10 years now, dating back to 1999 when he became an assistant at Weber State. He knows the January to March grind in the league is difficult, but it's made even more difficult this season with the cost-saving measure of playing most weekend doubleheaders on Friday/Saturday instead of Thursday/Saturday.

"The travel difficulties haven't changed - we still have nine institutions spread over eight states," he said. "You go from sea level to altitude, and one time zone to another. It's tough."

 

Schedule includes games with Washington State and Gonzaga: Eastern's 2009-10 schedule is highlighted by non-conference games against Washington State and Gonzaga, as well as the earliest Big Sky Conference start in school history.

Eastern opens its league schedule on the early date of Dec. 5, giving the Eagles two exhibition games and seven non-conference games to prepare for league play. Among those seven games, Eastern hosts Portland on Nov. 14 and Boise State on Nov. 24, and plays road games at Washington State on Nov. 16 and Idaho on Nov. 28.

"I like our non-conference schedule and the fact we're not stuck on the road very long," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said. "But November is very tough and we have to be ready right from the start."

Eastern plays at Portland State on Dec. 5 before resuming league play on Dec. 31 at home against Sacramento State. The other non-conference games for the Eagles include road games at Nevada (Dec.17), Brigham Young (Dec. 19) and Gonzaga (Dec. 28), as well as an appearance in the Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena on Dec. 22-23.

In addition, Eastern plays both at home (Dec. 12) and on the road (Feb. 1) against Seattle University, a newcomer in NCAA Division I in the 2008-09 season. Seattle defeated the Eagles in overtime last season, but the Eagles were able to edge both Portland (63-58) and Idaho (69-59) before both of those teams finished strong in the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference, respectively.

"We have our hands full with our non-conference schedule, but that's always the case," Earlywine said. "Now that Portland and Idaho have elevated their programs in the last year, it makes our non-conference schedule that much tougher.

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