Trying to snap a five-game losing streak, Eastern plays Monday at Seattle in a non-conference game at Key Arena
Date - Opponent - Spokane Radio Station -
Feb. 1 - at Seattle - 1510am - 7:10 p.m.
Feb. 7 - at Sacramento State - 1050am - 1:05 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. The audio and video of home games is available via WWW.BIGSKYTV.ORG, which also broadcasts the audio and video of EWU road games against all other BSC opponents.
Taking a short break from Big Sky Conference play, the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team makes the short trip to Seattle to play a non-conference game against the Seattle University Redhawks on Monday (Feb. 1).
Tipoff at Key Arena is 7:10 p.m. in a game that may be heard via radio in Eastern Washington on 1510am.
The Eagles are now 2-7 in the Big Sky and 6-16 overall, and EWU enters the game with a five-game losing streak following an 85-77 home loss to Portland State on Jan. 30. Eastern was out-scored 40-18 in the final 15 minutes after taking a 14-point lead with 15:33 remaining.
Earlier this season, the Eagles defeated the Redhawks 100-97 in overtime on Dec. 12 in Cheney. But since that victory, which gave EWU as 4-5 record on the season, the Eagles have won just twice in their last 13 games with a pair of five-game losing skids.
Seattle is now 9-13 following an 87-85 loss to Idaho on Jan. 30. Seattle has lost nine of their last 13 games after starting the season 5-4 entering the game against EWU.
"Hopefully we will play a full 40 minutes," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "Four of the last five games we've played well for somewhere between 30 and 38 minutes. We have to stretch it out and do it for the entire game."
With three freshmen now in their starting lineup -- Glen Dean, Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford -- Eastern hasn't won since beating Montana State 75-73 on Jan. 10 on a basket with 3.8 seconds remaining by Dean. Since then, three of EWU's losses have been decided by six points or less. So far this season, 11 of 21 Eastern games have been decided by six points or less, including the four prior to falling by 22 at Weber State on Jan. 23. EWU is 4-7 in those 11 nail-biters.
"We have a bunch of young players and they have to learn how to finish a game," added Earlywine. "We're having a hard time doing the right things for a full 40 minutes."
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=basketball&path=mbball
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 . . .
January 30, 2010 - Eagles Lose Lead and Fall to Portland State 85-77
January 23, 2010 - League-Leading Weber State Romps Past Eagles 89-67
January 22, 2010 - Eastern Loses at Idaho State 80-74 in Another Close One
January 16, 2010 - Northern Colorado Rallies For 74-71 Win
January 15, 2010 - Eastern Falls Late to Lumberjacks 73-69
January 10, 2010 - Glen Dean Hits Game Winner Against League Leaders
January 8, 2010 - Eagles Fall to Grizzlies 79-66
January 8, 2010 - Glen Dean and Julie Piper are Scholar-Athletes of the Month
December 31, 2009 - Dean and Dunn Lead Eagles Past Sacramento State
December 28, 2009 - Gonzaga Grounds Eagles 94-52
December 23, 2009 - Eastern Drops Fourth-Straight With 72-67 Loss
December 22, 2009 - Eagles Roll 62-53 Loss to Chicago State in Las Vegas
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
October 23, 2009 - SEASON OUTLOOK
Quartet of Eagles Return to Puget Sound: Eagles Glen Dean, Jeffrey Forbes, Abebe Demissie and Brandon Moore will be returning to the Puget Sound area to play Seattle on Feb. 1. Dean is a 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, and Demissie graduated the same year from Rainier Beach. Forbes is a 2009 graduate of Federal Way (Wash.) High School and Brandon Moore graduated in 2005 from Bethel High School in Graham, Wash.
Three of the Eagles won WIAA titles as seniors during their high school careers. Moore led Bethel to the 4A title in 2005, Demissie helped Rainier Beach win the 3A title in 2008 and Forbes contributed toward a Federal Way triumph in the 4A ranks in 2009.
Dean Leading Candidate for Big Sky Freshman of the Year: Newcomer Glen Dean is a leading candidate for Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honors as he leads the Eagles in scoring, assists and three-point shooting, and ranks among the Big Sky leaders in all three.
Dean has an 11.8 scoring average as to rank 13th in the Big Sky, and his average of 4.3 assists per game is now second. He is also fifth in the Big Sky in three-point field goal percentage (44.6 percent) and 10th in free throw percentage (.770). In Big Sky Conference play, Dean is averaging 5.3 assists to lead the BSC in league-only statistics, and his 15.2 scoring average is ninth. He has made 19-of-37 treys (51.4 percent to rank second) and 22-of-28 free throws (78.6 percent to rank 11th). He was selected as Eastern's male recipient of the December Scholar-Athlete of the Month Award, and currently has a 3.85 grade point average at EWU.
Dean equaled his season high with 10 assists at Portland State on Jan. 30, giving him his second double-double of the year as he also had 10 points. However, eight of his assists came in the first half as foul trouble limited him to just eight minutes in the second half. Worst of all, he had to sit out most of the stretch when PSU overcame a 14-point deficit by out-scoring EWU 40-18 in the final 15 minutes.
In EWU's last victory on Jan. 10 versus Montana State, Dean finished with 23 points, seven assists and a career-high six rebounds. He made a game-winning, six-foot running bank shot with 3.8 seconds to play. Against Sacramento State on Dec. 31, Dean scored 29 points as he made 8-of-17 shots from the field and 6-of-7 free throws, and had seven assists and just two turnovers in 34 minutes of action. He tied the school record with seven three-pointers in 12 attempts, equaling the mark set on 11 previous occasions by five other players.
"He was outstanding (against Montana State)," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said of the 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Wash. "He gets a little better and we get a little better. We give him a little bit more each week and he's just a sponge -- he absorbs it. He never lets down with his level of competiveness."
Dean had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 10 assists in Eastern's three-point loss at Nevada on Dec. 17. He 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.
Dunn Having Impressive Senior Season: Senior Mark Dunn ranks second on the team with an 11.6 scoring average, and ranks among the Big Sky Conference leaders in several categories.
Dunn is shooting a team-best 49.5 percent from the field, which ranks 11th in the league. His scoring average ranks 14th and he is sixth in free throw percentage (82.0 percent). He has showed a deft touch from the outside by making 18-of-42 three-point shots for 42.9 percent, including 9-of-18 in league play (50.0 percent to rank third in the BSC). He has made 82.0 percent of his free throws (50-of-61) to rank sixth in the BSC, and in league play he has made 21-of-23 for 91.3 percent (third in league games only statistics).
Dunn has scored at least 20 points four times this season -- Whitman (21 on 11/17/09), Walla Walla (23 on 12/1/09), Seattle (21 on 12/12/09) and Sacramento State (26 on 12/31/09). He also had 17 points versus Washington State on Nov. 16, 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 versus Whitman.
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 first 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.
Forbes Averaging 12.0 Points in League Play: Freshman Jeffrey Forbes is one of three freshmen guards playing big minutes for the Eagles, and is currently averaging 12.3 points in nine Big Sky Conference games to rank 16th in league-only statistics. The 2009 graduate of Federal Way (Wash.) High School is averaging 9.8 points overall as he has started 20 of 22 games this season. He leads the Eagles with an average of 30.3 minutes per game.
Although he has made only 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 29.5 percent from the three-point arc this season, those percentages have increased to 45.9 and 37.8, respectively, in league play. His free throw shooting has been steady all year, making a team-best 86.7 percent (39-of-45) that would rank third the league had he met the minimum of two free throws made per game. In league games only, Forbes has made 19-of-21 shots from the charity stripe for 90.5 percent to rank fifth in league-only statistics.
His best scoring performance came in his fourth collegiate game when he had 24 points in a 72-68 victory at Texas Arlington on Nov. 21. He has scored in double figures in his last five league games, including a high of 15 against Portland State on Jan. 30.
Glen Dean and Kevin Winford are EWU's other two freshmen guards. Winford is averaging 6.9 points per game, including a 20-point effort versus Idaho State on Jan. 22 when he made 8-of-18 shots from the field with four three-pointers.
Brandon Moore Moves Into Fourth on Career Rebounding List, Eighth in Games Played: Eastern Washington University senior 6-foot-9 center Brandon Moore has moved up on EWU's career leaders lists in both rebounding and games played, and is just one blocked shot from moving up on that list as well.
His current games played total is 108 (with 63 starts) to rank eighth, with Chris White (109 from 1998-801) and Dave Henley (109 from 1978-82) the next players to catch. Moore has 900 career points, as well as 630 rebounds to rank fourth in school history (Randy Buss is third with 858 from 1970-72). His 78 career blocked shots ranks him third in school history (Chris White is second with 79 from 1998-01).
Moore played in his 100th game as an Eagle at Gonzaga on Dec. 28. He is only the 12th player in EWU's 102-year basketball history to play that many games, with Marc Axton (2002-05) owning the school record of 119. If Moore plays in all of EWU's remaining regular season games, he would rank third in school history with 116. Paul Butorac (2004-07) and John Garrison (1987-91) each played in 113 games, and Alvin Snow (2001-04) played in 118.
A 2005 graduate of Bethel High School in Graham, Wash., Moore is currently leading the Big Sky in rebounding with an average of 7.5 per game. He is also averaging 8.9 points per game as he has started his senior season with four double-doubles thus far.
He 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. 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.
But Moore struggled after the Seattle game, averaging only 4.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during EWU's five-game losing streak that followed. In league play thus far, Moore had made only 36.8 percent of his shots (28-of-76).
Now with 10 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, and 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.
Trends: Eastern has improved its offensive output from last year, but so has its opponents. Eastern is averaging 69.6 points per game this year (63.5 last year), compared to 78.2 for opponents (68.5 last year).
Eastern's shooting percentages have gradually improved this season, and Eastern has now made 41.7 percent this season (41.8 last year), and 34.9 percent from three-point range (32.4 last year). Eastern is 5-5 when it makes at least 46 percent of its shots, and is 1-11 when it makes 45 percent or less, with the lone victory coming against Sacramento State on Dec. 31. Eastern opponents have made 48.0 percent of their shots thus far (46.7 last year), including shooting performances of 69 percent by PSU (12/5/09) and 64 percent by BYU (12/19/09).
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.
EWU-Seattle Series History: Eastern leads the all-time series 9-4 after a 100-97 overtime win over Seattle on Dec. 12 and a 63-59 overtime loss to the Redhawks on Feb. 24, 2009. Before that, the last meeting came on Nov. 22, 1985, when Eastern won 83-64 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. That was the lone game played between the two schools since EWU moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The first four meetings came in the 1945-46 season, and Eastern won all four as well as a pair the following season. A split followed in 1948-49, and Seattle swept a pair in the 1951-52 season.
Seattle was in NCAA Division I from 1944-1980, with such star players as Elgin Baylor, John O'Brien, Clint Richardson and Frank Oleynick on its rosters. Baylor, in fact, led Seattle to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament where it lost 84-72 to Kentucky. Formerly known as the Chieftains, from 1980-2002 they were affiliated with NAIA and from 2002-2007 were a member of NCAA Division II. Here is a list of the recent meetings:
11/22/85 - W - Seattle
- 83-64 - H
2/24/09 - L - Seatle - 59-63 (ot) - H
12/12/09 - W - Seattle - 100-97 (ot) - H
Earlier This Season -- Eagles Prevail 100-97 in Overtime Versus Seattle -- Senior center Brandon Moore scored four of his career-high 26 points in a key 7-0 run in overtime as Eastern Washington defeated Seattle University 100-97 in a non-conference college men's basketball game Dec. 12 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
"I think that's a great win," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "They have beaten Utah and they have beaten Fresno State -- they are a good basketball team that causes you a lot of problems with their personnel and their style of play. That's a heckuva win for us."
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 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 Mark Dunn, closed the scoring in overtime with a pair of free throws by Kevin Winford with seven seconds left. Seattle's Taylor Olson missed a contested three-pointer at the buzzer that could have knotted the game and sent it into a second overtime.
A year ago, in the first meeting between the two schools in more than 23 years, Seattle pulled out a 63-59 overtime victory.
Moore had the ninth double-double of his career as he also finished 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.
Dunn also had a double-double -- the first of his career -- with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He also had three assists as the Eagles finished with 29 (only four from the school record of 33) against the game-long, full-court pressing defense by the Redhawks. Eastern had just 15 turnovers, and finished with 18 fast-break points to the 17 of Seattle.
"In a game where Seattle traps and presses as much as they did, 15 turnovers is pretty respectable," Earlywine said. "That's true especially when you consider he had to play much of the game without Glen Dean and (senior guard) Benny Valentine because of foul trouble."
Earlywine was particularly pleased with the play off the bench of senior guard Gary Gibson, who had no turnovers in 21 minutes. He had played just two of EWU's previous eight games because of nagging knee problems.
"Our hat is off to Gary Gibson," Earlywine added. "He hasn't been able to do much physical activity since last June until about 10 days ago, but he came in and stabilized us when Glen and Benny were out. I thought that was a huge factor in the game."
Winford, a true freshman, finished with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists in his most productive game as an Eagle. Redshirt freshman Abebe Demissie added 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots and a pair of steals in just his sixth game as a collegiate player.
Eastern made 46 percent of its shots from the field, compared to 42 percent for Seattle. Eastern made 5-of-6 in the extra period compared to 4-of-12 for the Redhawks. A year ago in the meeting with Seattle, Eastern failed to score a field goal in the overtime period.
Six Redhawks scored in double figures, led by the 24 of Chris Gweth. Six-foot-10 pro prospect Charles Garcia was held to 12 points and eight rebounds, and had six of his team's 24 turnovers. He had entered the game averaging a double-double (26.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game), and was ranked in the top five in NCAA Division I in scoring.
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 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. 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. 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.
In a pair of neutral site games at the Las Vegas Classic, Eastern fell to Chicago State 62-53 and then lost to Jackson State 72-67. Eastern made only 28 percent of its shots against the Cougars, which used runs of 12-0 and 9-0 in the first half to take a 34-20 lead at intermission. Jackson State used a late 10-0 run to register its first victory in 11 games in the 2009-10 season.
The Eagles lost their fifth-straight game at nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Dec. 28, losing 94-52 after falling behind 53-25 at halftime. Eastern connected on just 28.8 percent of their shots from the field against Gonzaga, including just 4-of-24 behind the arc for 16.7 percent. Eastern was out-rebounded 56-35 in the game and had 16 turnovers in the first half, leading to 24 Gonzaga points off turnovers.
The Eagles snapped their losing streak when Dean and Dunn combined for 55 points in a 79-75 win over Sacramento State on Dec. 31. Eastern opened the game with a 13-0 run, and had led by as many as 16 points in each half as Dean tied the school record with seven three-pointers in 12 attempts.
A 79-66 loss at Montana followed, as the Grizzlies broke away from a 53-all tie in the second half. The game featured 12 ties and eight lead changes to that point, but the difference in the game was EWU's 22 turnovers compared to just seven for the Grizzlies. Montana scored 32 points off turnovers.
Two days after the Montana loss, Dean hit a running six-foot bank shot with 3.8 seconds remaining to lift the Eagles to a 75-73 upset over Montana State Jan. 10 at Worthington Arena in Bozeman, Mont. Dean scored 23 points, and also led the team with seven assists and six rebounds as Eastern recorded just its second road win in 11 tries.
But the Eagles followed with a pair of home losses, losing to Northern Arizona in a game that featured 12 ties and 18 lead changes, with the largest lead by either squad five points. One night later, the Eagles led by 15 in the first half against Northern Colorado, and then allowed the Bears to go on a 15-0 run to knot the score. Northern Colorado made its game-winning points with 22 seconds left after NAU hit its game-winner with 31 ticks of the clock remaining.
Eastern's losing streak increased to four games with road losses to Idaho State (80-74) and Weber State (89-67). The Idaho State game featured 14 lead changes and eight ties, but the Bengals took the lead for good with 6:22 to play. The next night, the Wildcats opened a 10-0 lead and led the entire way.
Eastern returned home to lose its fifth-straight game, falling 85-77 to Portland State. Eastern took a 59-45 lead early in the second half, but was out-scored 40-18 the final 15 minutes of the game.
Grueling Schedule Early for Eagles: 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 on Dec. 12. 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 four games in seven nights, starting 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. That game featured 15 ties and seven lead changes, with the Seattle game including 12 ties and seven lead changes.
Eastern followed those encouraging games with a trio of discouraging ones. Eastern had a pair of start-to-finish losses against Brigham Young (91-34 on Dec. 19) and Chicago State (62-53 on Dec. 22), and then lost to previously winless Jackson State (72-67 on Dec. 23). 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 fifth game of the losing streak came at nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Dec. 28.
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 in mid-December as EWU became 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 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.
Brunell continued to be bothered by his injury, and then missed Eastern's game against Sacramento State with an injury to his other ankle. Another sprained ankle, this time by starter Alden Gibbs, kept him out of four games from Jan. 15 to Jan. 23.
Eagles Versus Ranked Teams: Eastern lost 94-52 to Gonzaga on Dec. 28, 2009, in EWU's most recent game against a nationally-ranked foe. The Bulldogs were ranked 22nd by ESPN/USA Today, but were just out of the top 25 at No. 26 by Associated Press. The 2008-09 season was the first time since 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 1-15 versus nationally-ranked teams -- including
three games in the 2004-05 season alone as well as three the year
before. Seven of the games came under former head coach Mike Burns
and five others came under Ray Giacoletti from 2000-2004.
12/28/09 vs. #22 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 52-94
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 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."