Pair of 9-0 runs give Nebraska comfortable lead as Eastern falls to 3-7 heading into road game at South Dakota
A 9-0 Nebraska run in each half helped the Cornhuskers pull away from poor-shooting Eastern Washington for a 72-42 non-conference men’s basketball victory over the Eagles Saturday (Dec. 18) in Lincoln, Neb.
Eastern made only 21 percent of its shots from the field to drop to 3-7 for the season heading into another road game at 4-7 South Dakota on Monday (Dec. 20) at 5 p.m. Pacific time. Nebraska is now 9-2 as Eastern dropped to 0-5 all-time against Nebraska of the Big 12 Conference.
“We played pretty hard defensively,” said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine of staying close with Nebraska for the first 24 minutes of the game. “We caused them some problems with our quickness and our pressure.”
But turnovers cost the Eagles dearly, with 17 for the game. Eastern was averaging exactly 17 per game entering the Nebraska contest.
“It’s the same old story with our turnovers,” Earlywine said. “We were down 11 at halftime, and they scored 11 off of our eight turnovers. When we have the number of small players on the floor that we do that can handle the ball, I don’t understand why we continue to turn the ball over as much as we do. Then we come out after halftime and have seven turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half.
“It’s easy to look at the guards, but over half of our turnovers are by our forwards, and that happens game after game after game,” he added. “At some point we have to stop giving possessions away.”
Sophomore guard Kevin Winford paced Eastern with 14 points as he made a trio of three-pointers. No other Eagle scored in double figures as Eastern finished the game making just 21 percent of its shots from the field (12-of-57), including only 7-of-31 three-pointers for 23 percent. Eastern was also out-rebounded 43-40 by the Cornhuskers, who made 50 percent of their shots from the field (28-of-56).
Eastern true freshman Jaylen Henry came off the bench to grab six offensive rebounds to go along with two points.
“Jaylen Henry getting six offensive rebounds is pretty good against a team of that size,” Earlywine said. “He competed, so that was a good sign.”
Jorge Brian Diaz paced Nebraska with 14 points and Lance Jeter added 11, with Caleb Walker chipping in 10 points.
Eastern took its only lead of the night at 2-0, and later was behind just 16-11 when Nebraska put together its first 9-0 run to go on top 25-11. Eastern went 2:35 without scoring during that stretch, and the Cornhuskers led 33-22 at halftime.
The 9-0 run was even worse for the Eagles in the second half. Eastern trailed just 38-26 at the 16:33 mark when it went 5:02 without scoring -- and seven minutes total without a field goal -- as Nebraska took a comfortable 47-26 lead.
Monday’s game will be the first meeting for EWU against the Coyotes of the Great West Conference. Earlier this season on Nov. 12, Nebraska knocked off South Dakota 76-68.
Following a break for Christmas, the Eagles start Big Sky Conference play at home versus Sacramento State (Dec. 29) and Northern Colorado (Dec. 31).
“We need to play well Monday at South Dakota,” added Earlywine, who has had his full roster for only a week now because of preseason and early-season injuries. “Those practices when we come back from Christmas will be huge, as well as our practices after our first two conference games.”