SEASON WRAP-UP: Eastern Finishes 15-17 in Debut Season Under Hayford

Five wins better than a year ago, Eagles equal most victories since their 2003-04 season which ended with NCAA Tournament berth

It was all about improvement.

The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball program under first-year head coach Jim Hayford improved by five victories from the year before, as the Eagles equaled its most wins since Eastern made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004.

The NCAA Tournament is the goal for Hayford’s program, and the Eagles took a step in that direction with a 15-17 finish overall and 8-8 mark in league play to advance to the Big Sky Conference Championship. The Eagles won their first postseason game since 2006, beating Idaho State in the quarterfinals (81-75) before falling to eventual champion Montana (74-66) in the semifinals.

In addition, Eastern won six road games – its most since EWU won seven in the 2002-03 season and six the year after. And Eastern’s average attendance of 2,286 was double the 1,101 average of the 2010-11 season when EWU finished 10-20 overall and 7-9 in the league. Eastern’s crowds of 3,617 versus Montana State on Jan. 28 and 3,512 against Montana on Jan. 26 rank ninth and 10th, respectively, on EWU’s all-time list of single game recorded attendance.

And for the first time since 2006, the Eagles also had their first non-losing conference season, hosted and won their first game in the Big Sky Conference Championship and had their first player honored on the All-Big Sky Conference first team and BSC All-Tournament squad. In addition, Eastern also was home of the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year – only the third such honor for an Eagle and the first since 2002.

 “I’m really, really proud of our players, and proud of the season we had,” said Hayford. “We advanced Eastern Basketball further than it had in a long time, and that’s what I want our players to hang their hat on.”

Winning more league games against the upper echelon of the Big Sky will be the goal next season, as Eastern finished 0-7 against the three other tournament semifinalists. But the Eagles lost those seven games by an average of just 7.7 points per game with one loss in overtime. In the semifinals against Montana, a team which enters the NCAA Tournament with a 15-game winning streak, the Eagles led 62-61 with two minutes remaining before a late 11-0 Grizzly run gave UM the win.

“We defended a little better and we got some really good shots,” Hayford said of the loss to Montana, which featured a season-high 14 lead changes for the Eagles. “Off the top of my head, I can’t think of more than one bad shot we took. We did well.”

Eastern’s team featured a quartet of seniors, including three starters. A year after the Eagles were senior-less, the Eagles will bid farewell to point guard Cliff Colimon and forwards Laron Griffin, Cliff Ederaine and Tremayne Johnson. Those four players combined for 180 career starts and 274 total games in their careers.

Colimon averaged a team-leading 16.5 points and 5.0 assists per game on his way to earning first team All-Big Sky Conference and Big Sky Championship All-Tournament honors. He scored at least 20 points on 13 occasions as a senior, including seven of his last nine outings with a 21.9 average in those nine games (four victories). He had 49 points in two tournament games.

Griffin finished with double-doubles in his last three games, giving him four during the season and seven in his career. Ederaine had six double-doubles and seven in his career. Griffin ended his career with 15 points and 14 rebounds against Montana, and Ederaine had 16 points versus the Grizzlies in his highest-scoring game since he had a season-high 20 versus Weber State on Jan. 5.

The effort of the Eagles against Montana was indicative of EWU’s effort all season.

“We found an identity early, and that was to defend and play really hard,” explained Hayford. “With that came a few problems, but on very few occasions did anybody not say ‘that Eastern team played really hard.’ As we picked up all the pieces of a new program – new coaching staff and new players and coaches together – we kept getting smarter and smarter. We were lacking an inside presence, but when it came down the stretch we developed that as well. By the end of the season we were a complete basketball team.”

The Eagles finished with four victories in their last seven games, including a trio of wins over Idaho State (85-78 in Pocatello, 77-64 in Cheney and 81-75 in Cheney). Although the quarterfinal game versus the Bengals wasn’t a blowout like the previous meeting, Hayford admitted that playing at home and being the favorite added some pressure.

“I just have a sense of relief,” said Hayford of advancing to the semifinals. “It was a great foundational year for our program and we are really pleased with it. Our athleticism was a really hard match-up for other teams. Unfortunately, there have been times when we’ve guarded our own athleticism with some poor decision-making over the course of the season. And when we are playing smart, when we shoot percentages like we did against Idaho State and play defense like we did, we were a pretty good team.”

In the quarterfinal win over ISU, junior guard Jeffrey Forbes had a season-high 21 points, and had a steal and assist on a key basket with 37 seconds to play as the Eagles advanced. Griffin had a career-high 21 points and had 11 rebounds, and Colimon finished with 22 points, seven assists, two steals and four rebounds.

The Eagles had their second-best shooting night of the season at 52.8 percent, led by Griffin (8-of-12), Forbes (8-of-12) and Colimon (8-of-13). Although the Eagles shot 47 percent from the field in the season-ending loss to Montana, the ISU playoff win was the ninth win in nine games in the 2011-12 season when EWU made at least 45 percent of its shots from the floor.

“Down six in the second half is nothing for us,” said Hayford, whose team was behind 61-55 with 9:02 left. “Our guys don’t look at the scoreboard until there’s about three minutes to go. They’ve come back from big deficits before, and they knew that whether we were up six or down six we needed to play great defense. And we did that. We were wearing them down and they were in foul trouble, which gave us some pretty high percentage looks down the stretch.”

Besides Forbes, Eastern’s other starter returning for the 2011-12 season is forward Collin Chiverton, who was the Big Sky’s Newcomer of the Year and was an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection. He was EWU’s second-leading scorer with a 13.9 average, and finished with 88 3-pointers to rank second in school history.

Four other letter winners were underclassmen, and Eastern redshirted three players – including a pair of NCAA Division I transfers.

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Eastern’s Big Sky Bracketology

The Eagles made their 12th appearance in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, and second-straight after a string of four-straight misses.

Now 2-4 in six quarterfinal games, Eastern has advanced to the Big Sky semifinals on seven occasions (record of 5-3) and the championship game five times (1-4). Eastern’s only league title came in 2004 when they beat Northern Arizona 71-59, as EWU made its first and only NCAA Tournament appearance. That was the fourth-straight appearance in the title game for the Eagles, who made their first and only NIT appearance in 2003.

Until taking on Montana in 2011, Eastern had never played in the semifinals as the No. 4 seed, in fact, has never been fourth-seeded in its first 11 appearances. The seven appearances for the Eagles in the semis have included one as No. 1, four as No. 2, one as No. 3 and one as No. 4.

Following its 74-66 loss to the Grizzlies in the 2012 semifinals, Eastern is now 0-4 in the tournament against Montana. Eastern lost in the 2006 semifinals in Flagstaff, Ariz., as Rodney Stuckey missed a potential game-winning shot inside the key in regulation. Montana went on to win the tournament and beat Nevada 87-79 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Eastern lost 58-48 in a 2005 quarterfinal in Missoula in a match-up of the sixth-seeded Eagles and third-seeded Griz. In the 2002 title game in Bozeman, Mont., second-seeded EWU fell 70-66 to the fifth-seeded Grizzlies.


Eastern Makes its 12th Appearance in the Big Sky Conference Tournament

Eastern made its 12th postseason appearance in 25 years as a member of the Big Sky Conference in 2012, and is now 8-11 in its 19 games played in the league tournament. A 2011 appearance was EWU’s first in five seasons, having qualified for each tournament from 1998-2006. Eastern ended its season with losses to Montana in both 2005 and 2006, but the year before won the title with a 71-59 championship game victory over Northern Arizona to advance to the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament (EWU made its first-ever NIT appearance in 2003).

Although its streak of Big Sky tournament berths came to an end in the 2006-07 season, at the time Eastern was just the fifth school in league history to make nine-straight appearances in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Eastern started the streak back in 1998 after making just one trip to the tourney in its first 10 seasons as a member of the conference.

Weber State had its string of 24-straight appearances stopped in 2005-06, and Montana had a string of 21-straight from 1978-98. The other streaks were 16 by Idaho (1981-96) and 11 by Nevada (1982-92).

Interestingly, Montana’s 77-69 victory over the Lumberjacks on Feb. 28, 2005, extended Eastern’s streak and ended NAU’s eight-season streak. Eastern’s streak started in 1998 with an end-of-year victory at Montana. That “winner advance, loser eliminated” game ended Montana’s 21-year streak.

In 2011, Eastern’s season came to an end with a 79-70 loss at Weber State in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. That came just three days after the Eagles stunned WSU on their home court 75-59 to end the regular season. Because of the upset, the Wildcats lost their chance at a first-round bye and had to face the Eagles again. In the rematch, WSU out-scored EWU 46-25 in the second half as the Wildcats overcame a 12-point EWU halftime lead and a 15-point deficit early in the second half.

Here is a list of Eastern’s appearances in the Big Sky Tournament.
2012 – Semifinal (Missoula, Mont.) #4 seed vs. #1 Montana – L, 66-74
2012 – Quarterfinal (Cheney, Wash.) #4 seed vs. #5 Idaho State – W, 81-75
2011 - Quarterfinal (Ogden, Utah) - #6 seed vs. #3 Weber State - L, 70-79
2006 - Semifinal (Flagstaff, Ariz.) - #3 seed vs. #2 Montana - L, 71-73 (ot)
2006 - Quarterfinal (Cheney, Wash.) - #3 seed vs. #6 Portland State - W, 81-75
2005 - Quarterfinal (Missoula, Mont.) - #6 seed vs. #3 Montana - L, 48-58
2004 - Championship (Cheney, Wash.) - #1 seed vs. #2 Northern Ariz. - W, 71-59
2004 - Semifinals (Cheney, Wash.) - #1 seed vs. #5 Weber State - W, 72-53
2003 - Championship (Ogden, Utah) - #2 seed vs. #1 Weber State - L, 57-60
2003 - Semifinals (Ogden, Utah) - #2 seed vs. #4 Idaho State - W, 76-67
2002 - Championship (Bozeman, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #5 Montana - L, 66-70
2002 - Semifinals (Bozeman, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #3 Weber State - W, 62-57
2001 - Championship (Northridge, Calif.) - #2 seed vs. #1 CS Northridge - L, 58-73
2001 - Semifinals (Northridge, Calif.) - #2 seed vs. #5 Northern Arizona - W, 58-53
2000 - Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #3 Northern Arizona - L, 65-82
1999 - Quarterfinals (Ogden, Utah) - #6 seed vs. #3 Portland State - L, 74-80
1998 - Quarterfinals (Flagstaff, Ariz.) - #3 seed vs. #6 CS Northridge - L, 98-104 (ot)
1990 - Championship (Boise, Idaho) - #2 seed vs. #1 Idaho - L, 62-65
1990 - Semifinals (Boise, Idaho) - #2 seed vs. #5 Weber State - W, 83-67


Eagles Win on Senior Night

Four Eastern seniors were honored in pre-game ceremonies on Feb. 28 in EWU’s 77-64 victory over Idaho State. A year after the Eagles were senior-less, in the 2011-12 season the Eagles bid farewell to point guard Cliff Colimon and forwards Laron Griffin, Cliff Ederaine and Tremayne Johnson. Those four players combined for 180 career starts and 274 total games in their careers.

“Through all the highs and lows in this first season, one of the great things about our players has been their resilience,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “These guys are really easy to love and there is some good brotherhood. I have been on very successful teams that don’t have this kind of chemistry. When they travel together there is a lot of laughter. A lot of times we have players who didn’t have good nights, but who are really the best cheerleaders on the bench.”

Colimon and Griffin combined for 48 points in the Senior Night win, with Colimon establishing a new career high with 28. Griffin had 18 points and 12 rebounds to finish with his fifth career double-double.

 “Those two seniors really stepped up and wouldn’t be denied,” said Hayford. “They both played their best games of the year. I know it was really special for the players that all their families came. Many of them are taking time off work, so I have a lot of respect for the families making time for their players and the players working hard for them.”


Eagles Have Non-Losing Record in League Play for First Time in Five Seasons

It’s been five years since the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team has had a winning record overall, and came two victories away from that milestone thanks to a the school’s first non-losing league campaign since the 2006-07 season.

Now in its 25th season as a member of the Big Sky Conference, only seven of those years has Eastern had a non-losing non-conference record. Eastern was 6-8 in non-conference games in 2012, then was 8-8 in the league season. Eastern’s last winning season came in 2006-07 – with sophomore Rodney Stuckey leading the way – when EWU finished 15-14 and 8-8 in league play. One season earlier, the Eagles were 9-5 in the Big Sky in Stuckey’s freshman season – the last time the Eagles have had a winning record in league play.

The 2006-07 season was also the last time Eastern has enjoyed a .500 or better record in the non-conference portion of its schedule. Eastern was 6-5 in the 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1997-98 seasons; 5-5 in 2000-01; 8-6 in 2002-03 when Eastern advanced to the National Invitation Tournament; and 7-6 in 2006-07 when the Eagles tied for fifth in the league but did not advance to the league tournament because of tiebreakers.


Eagles 209th in RPI

In the Ratings Percentage Index lists released by the NCAA on March 9, Eastern was ranked 209th out of 344 NCAA Division I schools. The only Big Sky teams ahead of the Eagles were Weber State (69th), Montana (72nd) and Portland State (174th). In the Sagarin Computer Ratings (through games of March 8), the Eagles were fourth in the league and 207th in the nation with the 225th-highest strength of schedule rating. Montana was 97th, followed by Weber State (119th), Portland State (198th), Northern Colorado (250th), Montana State (290th), Sacramento State (291st), Idaho State (296th) and Northern Arizona (335th).


With Turnover Advantage in All But Five Games, Eastern 11th Nationally in Turnover Margin

Eastern had fewer turnovers than its opponents in 27 of 32 games in the 2011-12 season, with 498 turnovers forced and 377 committed. The result was a Big Sky-leading turnover margin of plus 3.8 per game to rank 11th in NCAA Division I through games of March 8. Eastern led the league in turnovers forced at 15.6 per game and was also No. 2 in fewest committed with a mark of 11.8 to rank 38th in NCAA Division I through games of March 8. In fact, EWU’s 11.8 average shattered the school record from the 1999-2000 season when the Eagles committed only 13.5 per game. Eastern’s turnover margin (+3.97) finished just behind the school record held by the 1989-90 Eastern team (+4.14).

In other Big Sky team statistics rankings, Eastern was second in the league in 3-pointers made with an average of 8.8 per game to rank ninth nationally through games of March 8. The Eagles were first in the Big Sky in offensive rebounds (12.0 per game); second in steals (7.1); and third in scoring offense (72.7), field goal percentage defense (.446), assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.0) and blocked shots (3.6). The Eagles were last in rebounds allowed per game (36.6); and were second-to-last in field goal percentage (.412) and rebounding margin (-2.5).

Individually, Cliff Colimon was second in the Big Sky Conference in assists (5.0 per game to rank 58th in NCAA Division I through games of Jan. 8), third in scoring (16.5), fifth in steals (1.6), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.5), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1), fifth in free throw percentage (.810) and third in minutes played (35.1). Collin Chiverton was second in the league in 3-pointers made per game with an average of 2.8 to rank 32nd in NCAA Division I through games of March 8, eighth in scoring (13.9), 10th in 3-point percentage (.406) and sixth in free throw percentage (.790). Cliff Ederaine was second in rebounding (7.3), 20th in scoring (10.5), 13th in field goal percentage (.494), third in blocked shots (1.3), ninth in assists (3.0), seventh in steals (1.3) and fourth in offensive rebounds (2.4). Laron Griffin was first in field goal percentage (.620) and offensive rebounds (3.1), and was fourth overall in rebounding (7.0) and eighth in blocked shots (0.7). Tremayne Johnson was ninth in blocked shots (0.7). True freshman Parker Kelly finished fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.449) and Jeffrey Forbes was 10th in minutes played (32.1).

In Big Sky Conference statistics from league games only, EWU was first in 3-pointers made per game (8.6) and also led in turnover margin (+3.8) and offensive rebounds (12.3); and was last in rebounds allowed (36.8). Griffin led in field goal percentage (.638), was tied for the lead in offensive rebounds (3.1) and was fifth in rebounding (7.3); Ederaine was second in overall rebounds (8.1) and blocked shots (1.6), and was third in offensive rebounds (2.8) and fourth in steals (1.6); Colimon was third in scoring (17.9), second in assists (4.8), and second in minutes played (36.6).


Kelly and Griffin Among National Leaders in Efficiency

True freshman Parker Kelly and senior Laron Griffin were among the nation’s leaders in efficiency, according to the web site

Kelly ranked third in “offensive rating” and Griffin was third in “floor percentage,” with both categories based on their shooting percentages and production in limited minutes. If their statistics were calculated on the basis of playing a full 40-minute game, Griffin would have averaged 14.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, and Kelly would have scored at an 11.9 clip.

Kelly averaged 4.8 points in an average of 16.0 minutes per game, and made 44.9 percent of his 3-point attempts (35-of-78) to rank fourth in the Big Sky Conference. In actuality, Griffin averaged 8.5 points and 7.0 rebounds while playing an average of just 24.1 minutes per game because of foul trouble. He made 62.0 percent of his field goal attempts – fourth-best in school history -- but also set a school record with 130 fouls and was disqualified 13 times to lead NCAA Division I.


Eagles Break Several School Records

Several school records fell in the 2010-12 season, including 3-pointers made (283) and attempted (761) in a single season, as well as the team’s average of just 11.8 turnovers per game. Eastern’s 723 fouls were a new record, leading to opponent records for free throws made (639) and attempted (925).

Eastern also had the most rebounds (1,090) and most total field goal attempts (1,914) since EWU became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. Opponent rebounds allowed (1,171) was also a new Division I school record for EWU.


School Records Fall as Eagles Lead Big Sky and Rank Ninth in NCAA Division I in 3-Point Shooting

En route to setting school records for 3-pointers made and attempted, the Eagles were second in the league in 3-pointers made with an average of 8.8 per game to rank ninth in NCAA Division I through games of March 8. Eastern made 283-of-793 for 35.7 percent (fourth-best in the league). For Eastern to have scored the same amount of points from inside the arc with the same amount of shots, the Eagles would have had to make 53.5 percent.

Eight different Eagles made treys, led by the 88 of junior college transfer Collin Chiverton and 66 by point guard Cliff Colimon. Chiverton’s average of 2.8 was second in the league and 32nd nationally through games of March 8. Chiverton’s total ranks second in school history for treys made in a season, with the record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. His 217 attempts were also second in school history, while Colimon ranks sixth in makes (66) and seventh in attempts (183).

The Eagles finished the 2010-11 season with a pair of school records for 3-point shooting, which were both broken in 2011-12. Eastern finished with 242 makes and 656 attempts, breaking the single season makes record of 241 set in 1999, and the record for attempts of 649 set the same season. Kevin Winford made 66 3-pointers in the 2010-11 season to rank fifth (now sixth) in single season school history, and his 187 attempts were fourth (now fifth). Jeffrey Forbes made 55 treys to rank 11th (now 13th).

“We’re confident with our system that we are going to get the 3-point shot no matter who we play,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after Eastern made 13 treys in a 73-66 win over Idaho on Nov. 30. “We are not always going to shoot the percentage we like, but we got 28 looks from three against Idaho and that’s right around where we’ve been. There are times where we might have five 3-point shooters or four on the floor at the same time, and we start the game with only three. (Idaho’s Memorial Gym) was an easy gym to shoot in because it’s small, and I think our players bought into it. So we shot the ball well. And hitting 13 threes – eight in the first half – kind of takes them out of the defense they want to play.”

A First Team All-Big Sky and All-Tournament Selection, Colimon Impressive Late in Season

Senior point guard Cliff Colimon saved his best for last, finishing with 77 points in his final three games, including a career-ending 27 in a 74-66 loss at Montana in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Missoula, Mont. For his effort, which included 10-of-20 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line, Colimon was selected to the Big Sky Conference Championship All-Tournament team.

He also scored 22 points in the quarterfinals, and coupled with 27 points in the 2011 quarterfinals, he averaged 25.3 points in three career tourney games. A first team All-Big Sky Conference selection as chosen by the league’s head coaches, Colimon scored at least 20 points on 13 occasions as a senior, including seven of his last nine outings. He had a 21.9 average in those nine games (four victories).

For the season, Colimon was second in the Big Sky Conference in assists (5.0 per game to rank 58th in NCAA Division I through games of Jan. 8), third in scoring (16.5), fifth in steals (1.6), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.5), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1), fifth in free throw percentage (.810) and third in minutes played (35.1). In statistics from league games only, he ranked third in scoring (17.9), second in assists (4.8), and second in minutes played (36.6).

His 527 points rank as the seventh-most all-time in Eastern history. He also had the eighth-best performance in school history with 160 assists in the 2011-12 season, equaling the 160 current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey had as a sophomore in 2006-07. Colimon’s 66 3-pointers made in his senior season rank sixth in school history and his 183 attempts are seventh.

In 58 career games (46 as a starter), Colimon averaged 13.7 points per game to rank 13th in school history. Despite playing just two seasons for EWU, he ranks sixth in school history for career 3-pointers with 114, and was sixth in attempts with 311.

Colimon was impressive in Eastern victories in the 2011-12 season, including EWU’s last two wins – both against Idaho State. In Eastern’s victories in the 2011-12 season, Colimon averaged 18.1 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting from the field (34-of-87 from the 3-point arc for 39.1 percent). In EWU’s losses, he averaged 15.1 points on 36.0 percent shooting from the field (32-of-96 3-point shooting for 33.3 percent).

He scored 22 points to go along with seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in EWU’s 81-76 victory versus ISU in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Championship on March 3. One game earlier on Senior Night on Feb. 28 in a 77-64 win over Idaho State, he had a career-high 28 points to eclipse his previous high by one. He also added four assists versus the Bengals – all in the second half when he scored 20 of his points. Colimon had a four-point play with 53 seconds left in the first half to give EWU a five-point lead, then EWU out-scored ISU 44-35 after intermission, including a 30-15 run in the first 10:38 of the second half. Colimon earned his first-ever Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honor after the Senior Night victory.

“What you want on a senior night is for your seniors to step up,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “Cliff led us offensively and had a great combination of beating people off the pass, the dribble and the shot. It was a complete game by our team and a complete game by these seniors. Generally, in basketball the team that is more aggressive is the team that wins, and I like that we were the more aggressive team.”

He came on strong at the end of the season much like he did in his junior year when he had his previous career high with 27 points in the Big Sky Conference Tournament against Weber State. In his final three games of his junior season, Colimon led EWU to a pair of victories and averaged 19.0 points per game.

Colimon also had a near triple-double versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 15 when he had 22 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in EWU’s come-from-behind 79-76 win. One league game later, he scored 21 points with six rebounds and three assists in EWU’s 85-78 win at Idaho State on Feb. 23. He also had a 22-point effort on 8-of-16 shooting from the field in EWU’s Big Sky Conference-opening 82-66 victory over Montana State on Dec. 28.

Colimon struggled with his shot in Eastern losses to Saint Mary’s (77-61 on Dec. 20), UCLA (60-47 on Dec. 14) and Washington State (75-49 on Dec. 3). He was just 4-of-33 (12.1 percent) from the field in those three games, including only 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) of his 3-point attempts.

But it’s hard to put up better numbers than what Colimon compiled in a victory over Linfield (104-54 on Dec. 8) and a loss to Cal State Fullerton (91-76 on Dec. 11). In 72 minutes of action, Colimon had 46 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, six steals and just one turnover. He combined to make 18-of-34 shots from the field and 7-of-16 from 3-point range en route to scoring 23 points in each outing.

In Eastern’s 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8, Colimon scored 23 points and had three steals and a career-high 11 assists to equal the seventh-most in school history. It was Eastern’s top assist performance in more than 10 years since Jason Lewis had 12 versus Cal State Northridge on Jan. 20, 2001. Colimon also had no turnovers in 32 minutes of action.

Head coach Jim Hayford said it best after the Linfield game: “I loved Colimon’s line – 11 assists, 23 points and no turnovers.”

“We stopped calling him Little Cliff – his name is ‘Tough Cliff’ now,” Hayford said in reference to the nickname given to Colimon and the “Big Cliff” moniker given to forward Cliff Ederaine. “Colimon was hurt more than anybody by his performance at Washington State – he had a tough night down there. Hopefully the confidence he gained against Linfield will be fuel in his tank.”

Colimon scored 17 points and had eight assists in his season-opener against Gonzaga on Nov. 11. The eight assists versus the Bulldogs was his career high until the output of 11 versus Linfield. His assists total against Gonzaga doubled his previous career high of four set last season against Idaho State (1/29/11) and Sacramento State (12/29/10).

Colimon’s previous career high of 27 points came in the final game of the 2010-11 season against Weber State (3/5/11) in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. In fact, in his last three games as a junior and first game in his senior season, Colimon averaged 18.5 points per game, including victories over Montana (59-55) and Weber State (75-59), and near-misses versus Weber State (79-70) and Gonzaga (77-69).

Chiverton Wins Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Accolades

Junior college transfer Collin Chiverton was selected as the Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year by the league’s head coaches, as he had 12 20-point performances as an Eagle – including five-straight games from Jan. 12-26. He also earned honorable mention All-Big Sky accolades.

Chiverton was second in the league in 3-pointers made per game with an average of 2.8 to rank 32nd in NCAA Division I through games of March 8, and was also eighth in the league in scoring (13.9), 10th in 3-point percentage (.406) and sixth in free throw percentage (.790). For the season, Chiverton was 88-of-217 from the 3-point stripe for 40.6 percent and 59-of-184 inside the arc for 32.1 percent. His 88 3-pointers are and 217 attempts are both second in school history behind the school records of 103 makes and 264 attempts set by Shannon Taylor in 1999.

However, injuries plagued Chiverton during the league season. A back injury suffered early in the game against Idaho State on Feb. 23 held him to three minutes of playing time in that game and nine versus Portland State two nights later. He played in only 11 minutes on Feb. 28 versus Idaho State, and 16 versus ISU on March 3.

An off-season stress fracture in his foot was reinjured over the Christmas break, and the 6-foot-6 Chiverton was hampered ever since. In fact, it was painful enough to limit him to 10 minutes, six shots and four points in the first half against Northern Colorado on Feb. 15. Eastern trailed 43-29 at halftime, but rallied for a 79-76 win, as Chiverton made 4-of-6 shots and scored 14 points after intermission to finish with 19 points in 21 minutes. He followed that with 20 points in 26 minutes at UC Irvine on Feb. 18.

He didn’t play in the first half against NAU on Jan. 7, but scored 12 points in the second half – including EWU’s first 10 of the half to give the Eagles the lead for good in the 76-59 win. He followed that with 21 points in just 25 minutes of action versus Sacramento State on Jan. 12, 21 in 18 minutes versus Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 and 26 in 26 minutes at Seattle on Jan. 16. Thus, in those four games, he scored nearly a point a minute – 80 in 83 minutes – while making 19-of-34 (56 percent) from the 3-point arc.

He followed that by playing 37 minutes against Portland State on Jan. 21, and scored 22 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the 3-point stripe and 7-of-21 overall. His fifth-straight 20-point performance came versus Montana on Jan. 26 when he made 5-of-10 shots overall and 4-of-6 from the 3-point stripe, as well as 8-of-12 free throws.

“It’s an injury that the doctor says he can play through, but with a tremendous amount of pain,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford explained after the NAU win. “So you have to respect him as a teammate in that he’ll do whatever he can to play. We’re trying to get him as much rest as we can. He had 10 points in his first four minutes, but he also did a great job guarding (NAU guard Stallon) Saldivar.”

He made 6-of-8 treys in a 21-point shooting effort against Sac State on Jan. 12, and versus Pacific Lutheran on Dec. 16 he made 6-of-9 2-point attempts and 4-of-10 treys en route to scoring 26 points.

Chiverton opened his Eastern career in a big way, scoring 25 points in Eastern’s 77-69 loss at Gonzaga on Nov. 11. A former redshirt at GU rival Saint Mary’s in California, Chiverton made 6-of-12 shots from the 3-point arc and 8-of-24 shots from the field against Gonzaga. He scored 25 again in EWU’s 70-61 win over South Dakota, making 9-of-21 shots overall and 6-of-13 from the 3-point arc. He added his third 20-point performance with 20 points in EWU’s 89-72 upset of Hawai’i on Nov. 19.

Chiverton’s debut versus GU was the best for an Eagle since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The previous best came in the 2010-11 season when Chiverton’s Eastern teammate Tremayne Johnson scored 21 in a 67-60 loss at San Jose State. Interestingly, current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored only 14 points in his debut against Pacific Lutheran in the 2005-06 season. Chiverton’s scoring output was also the second-best season-opening performance by an Eagle since David Peed scored 29 points on Nov. 25, 1989, in EWU’s 96-84 loss to BYU.

After leaving Saint Mary’s – a team he scored 18 against on Dec. 20 -- Chiverton played one season at Salt Lake Community College before leading City College of San Francisco to the 2010-11 California Community Colleges Athletic Association title. He averaged 19 points per game as a sophomore, including an average of 30 per game in the tournament, as San Francisco finished the season 32-1 with a 27-game winning streak.


Forbes Has Biggest Game of Season When it Matters Most

For the second-straight year, junior guard Jeffrey Forbes scored in a big way when it mattered the most.

Forbes had a season-high 21 points, and had a steal and assist on a key basket with 37 seconds to play, in EWU’s 81-75 Big Sky Conference Championship quarterfinal win over Idaho State. He made 8-of-12 shots from the field, including 5-of-6 3-point attempts. It was only his second double figure scoring performance in his last 15 games as he entered the game averaging 6.5 points per game overall and 5.6 in league play.

“Jeff had a huge night -- he received the game ball for really stepping up,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “He is a winning player -- he had a great high school career and was part of a great high school program. He is our most steady player and he knows how to play winning basketball. I’m extremely proud of him.”

As a sophomore, Forbes entered EWU’s March 2 game at Weber State averaging only 6.6 points per game on the road. But he responded in a huge way, making 7-of-9 shots overall and 3-of-5 attempts from the arc in EWU’s 75-59 win. He finished with 17 points and also had a pair of steals as EWU forced a season-high 23 turnovers leading to a season-high 29 points off turnovers. His scoring performance was his best in 16 games since his back-to-back 21-point efforts to open the league season against Sacramento State and Northern Colorado in late December.

Forbes has played in 92 games (82 as a starter) as an Eagle, and could break Marc Axton’s (2002-05) school record of 119 as a senior. Forbes ranks ninth in school history with 97 career steals, and is also fourth in 3-pointers made (143) and attempted (377).

He had late-season heroics in high school too, helping Federal Way (Wash.) win the 2009 State 4A title. The Eagles finished the 2008-09 season 27-2 and 14-2 in the South Puget Sound League North Division, and won their final 16 games of the year. Forbes averaged 11.2 points per game en route to second-team All-SPSL honors. He had a season-high 24 late in the season against Central Kitsap, and scored 38 points in four State 4A Tournament games, including 16 in a semifinal win over Kentridge.


Eagles Flexing Their Muscles Inside

With its shooting percentage from the perimeter suffering at various times in the league season, Eastern re-established an inside presence in the last 13 games. The Eagles averaged 28.0 points inside the paint in those games after averaging 23.7 in their first 19. In the last four EWU games alone, Eastern averaged 33.3 to increase EWU’s final season total to 25.4 per game.

In a 69-52 win over Montana State on Jan. 28, Eastern had a season-high 40 points inside the paint, second only overall to the 44 the Eagles had versus Linfield on Dec. 8. The Eagles had a total of six performances of 32 or more in their last 13 games, after hitting that mark just three times in the previous 19 games.

A trio of seniors 6-foot-7 or taller paved the way. Laron Griffin (6-8) had double-doubles in his last three games, as he concluded his career by averaging a double-double in the last five games of his career (16.0 points, 10.6 rebounds). He had 18 points and 12 rebounds against ISU on Feb. 28 on Senior Night, 21 points and 11 boards in the Big Sky Conference Championship quarterfinals on March 3 and 15 points and 14 rebounds in the final game of his career on March 6 in the semifinals.

Best of all, Griffin had only eight total fouls and averaged 34.7 minutes per game in the final three games after fouling out 13 times in EWU’s first 29 (his 13 disqualifications led NCAA Division I). He finished with a school-record 130 fouls as a senior, breaking the previous record of 114 he set in the 2010-11 season.

Griffin made 62.0 percent of his field goal attempts as a senior to rank fourth in school history. On career lists, his 540 total rebounds are sixth and his 70 blocked shots are fifth. Griffin had four double-doubles as a senior and seven in his career, and finished his 92-game career with 13 performances of at least 10 rebounds (seven as a senior).

In Big Sky Conference statistics, Griffin was first in field goal percentage (.620) and offensive rebounds (3.1), and was fourth overall in rebounding (7.0) and eighth in blocked shots (0.7).

“Laron is solid,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “He is an extremely coachable player and he is definitely our most improved player. He’s improved his field goal percentage by at least 25 percent over last season (.620 as a senior, .436 his junior season and .440 as a sophomore). He is a great teammate and it is a real joy to be Laron’s coach.”

Cliff Ederaine (6-7) and Tremayne Johnson (6-7) also contributed greatly inside for the Eagles in the past two seasons.

Ederaine had six double-doubles as a senior – three in his last 11 games – and had seven in his career. He had 15 points and 18 rebounds (fourth-most in school history) against Sacramento State on Feb. 4, and had 11 points and 13 boards one game earlier versus Northern Arizona on Feb. 2. He also had six assists in each game. His other double-doubles his senior season included 10 points and 13 boards against Montana on Jan. 26, 12 points and 12 rebounds versus Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 and 11 points and 11 rebounds against Linfield on Dec. 8. He closed his career with 16 points versus Montana on March 6 in his highest-scoring game since he had a season-high 20 versus Weber State on Jan. 5.

Johnson had four double-doubles in his career, including two as a senior versus Portland State (20 points, 10 rebounds on Jan. 21) and Montana (14 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 30).

In Big Sky Conference statistics, Ederaine was second in rebounding (7.3), 20th in scoring (10.5), 13th in field goal percentage (.494), third in blocked shots (1.3), ninth in assists (3.0), seventh in steals (1.3) and fourth in offensive rebounds (2.4). Johnson was ninth in blocked shots (0.7).

In Big Sky Conference statistics from league games only, Griffin led in field goal percentage (.638), was tied for the lead in offensive rebounds (3.1) and was fifth in rebounding (7.3); and Ederaine was second in overall rebounds (8.1) and blocked shots (1.6), and was third in offensive rebounds (2.8) and fourth in steals (1.6).

In the Jan. 28 win over MSU, that trio combined for 40 points and 30 rebounds. Griffin had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds; Ederaine had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists; and Johnson came off the bench to score 11 points and grab eight boards.

In the next game, a 74-68 road win at Northern Arizona, Ederaine had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds; Griffin had seven rebounds and five points; and Johnson had six points and three boards. Collectively, they made 12-of-18 free throws versus the Lumberjacks.

“One of the things that we were really working on is that if we want to get the ball inside we need to get higher percentage shots and we need to shoot more free throws,” said Hayford after the MSU rematch. “We knew our team was progressing and we needed to develop some sort of low post presence in order to get better as a team.

“It doesn’t feel like there are that many nights where the other team’s big guys are the same size as ours,” Hayford said of his big men. “So it was neat for us to flex our muscles down low.”

After leading Eastern to a pair of late November victories, Ederaine was selected as Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, the league announced Nov. 29. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior forward from Moreno Valley, Calif., averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and two blocks per game as the Eagles notched a road win over Hawai’i (89-72) on Nov. 22, and topped UC Davis (79-59) on Nov. 27 in Cheney.

He had a splendid outing in a 76-69 loss to Weber State on Jan. 5, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists, a career-high five steals and a pair of blocked shots. He had no turnovers in 34 minutes after having five in 23 minutes in EWU’s previous game, a 79-71 loss at Montana.

“Big Cliff played a great game -- he was the best big man on the court,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after the Weber State game. “We were able to run the offense through him. He felt bad about the turnovers in Missoula so I asked him what he was going to do about that the next game. He really worked hard tonight.”

En route to a career-high 23 points versus UC Davis, Ederaine made 8-of-9 shots from the field, including his first trey of the season and only the second of his career. A 45.6 percent free throw shooter a year ago, he made 6-of-9 for the line against the Aggies to improve to 20-of-26 – 76.9 percent (he finished at 61.4 percent, 89-of-145).

To add to his night, Ederaine also had eight rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal. Ederaine scored 11 points in the first 6:24 of the game as Eastern held early leads of 13-4 and 17-9. He had 11 points, five boards and five assists in the second half alone. “We were running our offense through the high post and Big Cliff put the team on his shoulders,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford.

In another home game his senior season – a 70-61 win over South Dakota on Nov. 15 -- Ederaine had 15 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals. In the team’s third home game on Dec. 8 versus Linfield, he had his third career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and also had six assists.

His performance against South Dakota was his second career double-double, with his first coming against New Hope last year when he had 12 points and 17 rebounds, as well as his previous career high for assists with four. He had 10 double figure scoring performance and seven with at least 10 rebounds in the 2010-11 season.


Eagles Continue to Climb Three-Point Career and Single Season Lists

Four Eagles rank in the top 10 on Eastern’s single season and career lists for 3-point shooting. Junior Jeffrey Forbes has 143 3-pointers made in his career to rank fourth and his 377 attempts are fourth. Fellow junior Kevin Winford has 110 makes to rank seventh and his 326 attempts are fifth, and senior Cliff Colimon has 114 makes to rank fifth and 311 attempts to rank sixth. All three also rank on single season lists, in addition to Collin Chiverton, who ranks second in both makes (88) and attempts (217). Colimon made 66 3-pointers to rank sixth, and his 183 attempts are seventh. Winford ranks sixth with 66 makes as a sophomore, and his 187 attempts that season are No. 5 on the list. Forbes is now 13th on the single season list with 55 in the 2010-11 season.

Those players have also been impressive from the free throw line in their careers. Forbes, in fact, set a single season school record for free throw percentage (.900, 54-of-60) in the 2010-11 season, just ahead of the previous record of .899 set by Darren Cooper in 2001-02). In his career, Forbes has made what would be a school record at 87.9 percent (138-of-157), but he is 27 attempts shy to meet the minimum of two free throw attempts per game. Winford’s 83.8 percent (62-of-74) is also just behind the school record, but he also does not meet the minimums (he has 74 and would need 176). Currently with the school record is the 84.9 percent performance of Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame member Dick Edwards (1953-55). Colimon made 78.8 percent in his career (149-of-189), but was just short of the No. 10 position (79.0 percent).

Forbes (.854) and Parker Kelly (.913) were impressive from the line in the 2011-12 season, but didn’t meet the minimum of two attempts per game to qualify for a spot on EWU’s top 10 list. Colimon (.810) and Chiverton (.790) met the minimums, but were just short of the No. 10 position (.846).


Blocked Shots Totals High Too

With 120 blocked shots for the 2010-11 season, Eastern finished only 10 blocked shots away from the school record of 130 set in 2006. In the 2011-12 season, the Eagles finished with 114.

A trio of current Eastern players have recorded four of the top 12 single season performances in school history including Cliff Ederaine, with 41 as a senior to rank second behind the school record of 51 set by Paul Butorac in 2006. Also on the list from performances in the 2010-11 season are Tremayne Johnson (35, now fourth), Ederaine (34, now tied for fifth) and Laron Griffin (28, now tied for 12th).

In their careers, Ederaine finished ranked fourth in school history with 75, Griffin is fifth with 70 and Johnson is seventh with 57.


True Freshman Walk-On Parker Kelly Has Career-High 17 Twice, Plus Game-Winner Versus UNC

Walk-on guard Parker Kelly, a true freshman out of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash., received significant minutes late in the year as he continued to adjust to the college game. Kelly averaged 8.3 points per game in EWU’s last 10 games, including two with 17 and one in which he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 14 seconds to play.

He averaged 19.5 minutes in conference play and 15.8 minutes per game overall, and had an average of 6.5 points in the league on 27-of-56 shooting from the 3-point arc (48 percent). Overall, he averaged 4.8 points and made 44.9 percent of his 3-point attempts (34-of-77) to rank fourth in the Big Sky Conference. He also made 91 percent of his free throws (21-of-23).

In an 85-78 win at Idaho State on Feb. 23, Kelly made the first start of his career and helped replace some of the scoring lost with the absence of injured leading scorer Collin Chiverton. He responded by equaling his career-high with 17 points, making 5-of-7 3-pointers as EWU finished with 10 as a team. “Parker made some big, big threes during the course of the game,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford of the 2011 graduate of Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane, Wash. “He played very well.”

Kelly scored 11 points in a 78-73 loss at UC Irvine in the ESPN BracketBusters on Feb. 18. One game earlier versus Northern Colorado, he scored nine second-half points on a trio of 3-pointers, including a game-winning trey with 14 seconds left in the come-from-behind 79-76 victory.

In the game before that, Kelly scored a career-high 17 points in EWU’s 84-75 loss at Weber State on Feb. 11. Kelly, whose previous high was 12 on two occasions, made 6-of-10 shots from the field, including 5-of-8 from the 3-point arc versus the Wildcats. “Parker Kelly played a heckuva basketball game -- I’m so proud of him,” Hayford said.

Earlier in the league season, Kelly equaled his season high with 12 points against Northern Colorado on Jan. 14, and had eight points in 21 minutes in EWU’s 69-52 victory over Montana State on Jan. 28. He followed that with 11 second-half points against Northern Arizona on Feb. 2, as the Eagles rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit to win 74-68. Down the stretch, Kelly made a basket with 4:06 remaining to put the Eagles up by seven, then made a trey with 1:18 to play to enable EWU to maintain a six-point advantage. He then knocked down 4-of-4 free throws in the final 51 seconds to ice the win for the Eagles.

“I was pleased with the job that Parker was doing,” Hayford said after the MSU rematch. “Parker has great character, he’s a solid person and that’s what he keeps showing over time. I’m really proud of how he is playing. We don’t have a lot of depth so there is a walk-on freshman playing 21 minutes in a big game -- so great job Parker.

“The player that came up with the most clutch plays was our only true freshman on the team,” praised Hayford after the NAU game. “Parker hit a big clutch shot with the shot clock going down and then made those big free throws. He had a lot of courage tonight.”

Kelly helped Gonzaga Prep accumulate a 73-11 overall record and 45-5 league mark in three seasons. He helped lead the Bullpups to the 2011 State 4A Championship, as they were 23-3 after finishing the Greater Spokane League season with a 14-2 record. Kelly scored 24 points in the State title game and earned second-team All-State Tournament honors. Also selected to play in the All-State Game, Kelly averaged more than 18 points per game as a senior en route to earning first team All-Greater Spokane League honors.

His father, Terry, had his No. 44 basketball jersey retired by Gonzaga Prep, as he averaged 26.2 points per game his senior year in 1976 to lead the Spokane City League in scoring. He was the league’s player of the year after leading the Bullpups to a third-place finish at the State AAA Tournament. He went on to Washington State University where he started 80 straight games at one stretch and led the Cougars to the 1980 NCAA tournament.


Tongue-Lashing Keeps Winford Out of UCLA and PLU Games

In a tongue-lashing of a rare kind, junior guard Kevin Winford had to sit out the UCLA game on Dec. 14 and the Pacific Lutheran game two days later because of a swollen tongue. Winford bit his tongue in EWU’s game at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 11, then spent two days in a California hospital – some of it in intensive care -- because of an inordinate degree of swelling. He returning to play sparingly – just one minute -- against Saint Mary’s on Dec. 20.

Because Winford was Eastern’s backup point guard, starter Cliff Colimon was forced to play all 40 minutes against UCLA because of the absence of Winford. A 2008 graduate of Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska, Winford only averaged 11.0 minutes per game as a junior, and averaged 2.1 points per game on 10-of-35 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. But the 5-foot-11 academic All-America nominee provided the play of the game in Eastern’s 104-54 victory over Linfield on Dec. 8.

 “The best play of the night was Kevin’s drive and dunk down the lane – that was pretty emphatic,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said. “He’s a very athletic player and we want him to show it. That was an example of it. He’s just a great young man – a tremendous student and a great leader. He’s a business major, and some business will be really glad to hire him some day. I just think the world of him. I promise you he’ll be showing his grandkids that dunk someday.”

As a sophomore, Winford poured in 39 points -- including a school-record 10 3-pointers -- in Eastern’s overwhelming 112-41 non-conference victory over New Hope Christian College on Dec. 4, 2010. En route to the fifth-best scoring night in school history against New Hope, Winford broke the school record of nine treys he set just a week earlier against Idaho on Nov. 27. As a team, the Eagles broke the school record for made 3-pointers (18) and three pointers attempted (43), and tied the mark for field goals made in a game with 45. Previous records were 16 3-pointers versus Cascade on Dec. 14, 2007; 38 attempts versus Nevada on Feb. 14, 1991; and 45 field goals made against U.S. International on Feb. 2, 1991.

Winford’s 23 three-point attempts were also a Big Sky Conference record, breaking the previous mark of 17 set by Nevada’s Kevin Franklin against Oregon on Dec. 16, 1989. His makes were third-most, with Portland State’s Brian Towne owning the record with 12 in a 1998 game against Idaho State. As a team, Eastern was two made 3-pointers from the Big Sky record of 20, but its 43 attempts were a record.


Hayford’s First Eastern Win Has South Dakota Connections

Coming full circle, Jim Hayford’s first win as Eastern Washington’s head coach came in a 70-61 win on Nov. 15 over South Dakota. South Dakota was directed by veteran head coach Dave Boots, who has won nearly 500 games in 24 seasons at the helm of the Coyotes. In fact, in the 1999-2000 season, Boots’ South Dakota squad knocked off Hayford’s University of Sioux Falls team 95-73. Hayford went on to finish 15-15 in his first season as a collegiate head coach at the school located in Sioux Falls, S.D., while the Coyotes finished 22-6.

“I’ll always remember my first win at Eastern was against South Dakota,” said Hayford. “It’s kind of poetic because my first head coaching job was in South Dakota.”

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