Eastern misses three free throws and a shot in the final 46 seconds to fall to 1-1 in the league and 4-9 overall
Elliott Lloyd blocked a shot by Glen Dean with one second remaining to preserve Northern Colorado's 75-73 Big Sky Conference men's basketball victory over Eastern Washington Friday (Dec. 31) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern's Jeffrey Forbes, who scored 21 points to lead the Eagles, had knotted the game with 1:18 left before UNC's Devon Beitzel scored the last of his 23 points with a jumper with 59 seconds left. That was the final score of the game as Dean followed with three missed free throws in the final 46 seconds, then the Eagles couldn't capitalize on a Bear turnover with 11 seconds to play.
"That one was hard to stomach losing like that," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. The Eagles are now 1-1 in the league and 4-9 overall as they now head on the road for four-straight road games -- including three league counters. The Bears are now 6-7 overall and 2-0 in the league.
"We were 13-of-27 from the arc and we thought if Glen could get to the paint it would be very difficult for them to come help off anybody," Earlywine explained of the final play. "And if they did, we could get a three. It didn't work out this time. We had what we wanted but it didn't go in."
Forbes made 6-of-8 three-pointers and 7-of-11 shots overall as he led four Eagles in double figures. Dean, Cliff Colimon and Kevin Winford each scored 13, with Dean finishing with a game-high six assists. Cliff Ederaine added six points and seven rebounds as he entered the game as the Big Sky leader with an average of 8.6 boards per game.
The Bears used a 7-0 run early in the game to take a 21-14 lead and didn't trail the rest of the half until the final seconds on a rebound basket by Eastern's Rocky Brown. That gave EWU a 43-42 advantage at intermission.
Beitzel scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field in the first half as the Bears made 54 percent of their shots from the field, including 5-of-9 three-pointers.
Winford, Colimon and Forbes combined for 30 of Eastern's 43 points as Eastern made 8-of-13 treys. Forbes made all three of his, and Winford made all five of his free throws. Eastern sank 48 percent of its shots in the first half, but was out-rebounded 18-13.
There were three ties and six lead changes in the first half, then there were five more ties and three lead changes in the second half. The biggest lead for either team was eight in the first half by UNC (24-16), and Eastern's largest leads were three in the first half and one in the second.
Northern Colorado made 49 percent of its shots from the field and out-rebounded Eastern 35-27. The Eagles made 42 percent from the field, and stayed in the game by making 13-of-27 three-pointers. Eastern missed 10 free throws (16-of-26) while the Bears missed just six (24-of-30).
Eastern was picked to finish sixth in this year's league race by both the media and coaches. The Bears, who snapped a four-game losing streak by winning at Portland State 79-66 in their Big Sky opener on Wednesday, were picked second by the media and fourth by the coaches.