Promising Start for Naught as Eagles Fall to Huskies 98-72
Nationally-ranked Washington pulls away in second half from Eastern, which returns home to face Northwest University on Thursday
A promising start was erased by a 20-5 run to start the second half as 17th-ranked Washington pulled away in the second half for a 98-72 men's basketball victory over Eastern Washington Tuesday (Nov. 16) at Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle.
Washington capitalized on 24 Eastern turnovers by scoring 38 points off of them to improve to 2-0 for the season. Although it out-rebounded UW 40-35, Eastern allowed 15 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points as EWU fell to 0-2. After giving up no fast-break points in the first 18 minutes, the Eagles allowed 22 the rest of the game.
Matthew Bryan Amaning had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, while Eastern was paced by the 14 points of Kevin Winford and 13 by Tremayne Johnson, including 10 in the first half.
"It was a good learning experience for us," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "It wasn't a total loss for us by any means. I liked our competitiveness at times and our 2-3 zone was good. And we out-rebounded them, and they out-rebounded McNeese State by 37. There was a lot we can take from this game."
The Huskies, who were 26-10 overall and 11-7 in the Pacific 10 Conference a year ago, are picked to win the league title this year. In the most recent polls, Washington was ranked 17th by Associated Press and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. Gonzaga, Eastern's opponent on Nov. 30 in Spokane, is 11th in the AP poll and 12th by the coaches.
Washington defeated McNeese State 118-64 in its opener last Saturday while the Eagles fell to San Jose State 67-60 in their season debut one game earlier.
"We are not going to play with anybody with the speed and athletic ability that Washington has," Earlywine said. "They play at an unbelievable pace and we can't replicate that in practice. It was good to play against that kind of talent."
Eastern next hosts Northwest University from Kirkland, Wash., on Nov. 18 at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The NU Eagles are a member of NAIA Division II and were 17-14 a year ago and 10-8 in the Cascade Collegiate Conference to finish fourth.
The radio broadcast of the all Eastern games game may be heard on 700-AM ESPN "The Ticket" and via the web at www.espnnorthwest.com, with veteran play-by-play broadcaster Dennis Patchin calling the action. All home games and other Big Sky Conference games may also be viewed free of charge at www.bigskytv.org.
Eastern was impressive in the first half, and trailed only 42-34 at intermission. That was a huge improvement over recent meetings with the Huskies in which the Eagles trailed at intermission by 20 (2008), 18 (2007), 19 (2005) and 25 (2004).
Utilizing a zone defense for much of the half, the Eagles held Washington to 40 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, and the zone forced the Huskies to make five three-pointers. Eastern didn't allow any fast-break points until the final two minutes of the half.
Eastern led early 9-3, and trailed only by two at 28-26 with 5:23 to play. The only tough stretches for the Eagles were a 10-0 Husky run that wiped out EWU's early lead, and a late stretch in which Eagle turnovers on steals by Washington's Venoy Overton led to a pair of baskets.
Johnson scored 10 points in the first half, but the Eagles had 14 turnovers, resulting in 12 more shots by the Huskies (40-28).
"It's hard to design a defense if you give the ball away like that," said Earlywine. "Overton is such a spectacular on-the-ball that it wasn't fair to Cliff putting him in that position with his bad ankle."
Washington scored the first nine points after intermission before opening a 62-39 lead with 14:55 to play to complete the 20-5 run to start the half. The Huskies, who hit 10 of their first 15 shots of the half, led by as many as 29 points and the closest Eastern came was 19.
Point guard Cliff Colimon, who missed EWU's opener against San Jose State and didn't play in EWU's final exhibition game because of an ankle sprain, made his Eagle debut against the Huskies. He scored seven points and had three assists, two steals and had five turnovers in 19 minutes of action. Returning point guard Glen Dean is still out for about another week with a stress fracture in his foot, and has yet to make his first appearance this season.
"I'm not nearly as distraught as I was after the first exhibition game," said Earlywine, whose team lost a pair of exhibitions to open the year. "I think we'll find there was a 50-50 split on good versus bad in this game."