Huskies Use 12-0 Second-Half Run to Turn Away EWU Upset Attempt

Tyler Harvey scores a career-high 28 points and Drew Brandon has double-double and six assists in losing effort

The turnovers and free throws started mounting, and the lead slipped away.

The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team held a double-digit lead much of the game, but a late 12-0 run helped Washington pull away for a 92-80 victory Sunday (Nov. 17) at Alaska Airlines Arena. The game was part of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project.

Eastern, which was out-scored at the free throw line 31-11, was playing its first game against UW in Jim Hayford’s tenure as EWU head coach. The Eagles are now 1-1 on the young season, while the Huskies are 2-1. Eastern was coming off a wire-to-wire 87-58 victory over Pacific on Nov. 10 in Cheney, Wash., while Washington lost to UC Irvine 86-72 in its last outing.

“To beat a good team on their home floor you need to play a complete game,” said Hayford, whose team was just 11-of-23 at the line compared to a 31-of-34 effort by the Huskies. “We were out-scored by 20 points at the free throw line. We need to improve as a foul-shooting team and we need to take advantage of that. You know they are going to answer with a run, but if we’re making all of our free throws it’s a one-possession game at the end. That played against us.”

Junior point guard Drew Brandon, playing just his second game as an Eagle, turned in a superb double-double for the Eagles with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists. Tyler Harvey lit up the scoreboard for a career-high 28 points, including 20 in the first half when the Eagles opened up a double-digit lead.

“We knew we were getting a great rebounding guard and he did it on a big stage,” said Hayford. “It’s one thing to put those numbers up in junior college, but he did it on a Pac-12 floor. The thing I love about him is that he’s a competitor. He wants those shots and he’s not going to turn the ball over much.

Parker Kelly added 10 points for the Eagles, and Venky Jois had nine points and six rebounds. Martin Seiferth played just 14 minutes because of foul trouble and had seven points and four rebounds.

 “Tyler was unbelievable that first half,” Hayford continued. “Then they did a great job of making life really, really hard on Tyler. Martin was in foul trouble the whole game, but I thought he played well in the minutes he had.”

Eastern led by as many as 12 in the second half, but had 10 second-half turnovers. Eastern had 15 in the game as EWU ended with a 20-14 advantage in points off turnovers.

“We got them away from what they wanted to do, and then they just put five guards out there because we were exploiting the mismatches,” said Hayford of the turnaround. “They dialed up the pressure and then scored points off our turnovers and the game changed fast. We have to take care of the ball better when there is pressure on us like that.”

With seven early points from Brandon and a pair of 3-pointers by Harvey, Eastern opened an early 18-8 lead on the Huskies. A 3-pointer by Thomas Reuter gave the Eagles a 24-13 advantage at the 10:58 mark.

Eastern led 48-39 at halftime as Harvey scored 20 of his points in the first half. He made 5-of-8 3-pointers – including a 4-point play – as EWU finished 7-of-15 in the half as a team.

The Eagles built the lead to 12 on two occasions early in the second half thanks to a pair of baskets by Seiferth and a layup by Parker Kelly at the 18:10 mark. But Seiferth picked up his fourth foul with 16:31 to play and EWU leading 67-57.

With fouls mounting and Washington’s free throw total soaring, the Eagles held a 70-63 lead with 10:17 to play on a 3-pointer by Harvey. But UW followed with its 12-0 run to take a 75-70 lead.

Eastern righted the ship, but the momentum shift helped UW maintain the lead the rest of the way.

The Huskies were 18-16 a year ago overall and 9-9 in one of the toughest leagues in the country. The Eagles return four starters and seven total letterwinners to a team that finished 10-21 overall and just missed the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a 7-13 league mark. Hayford enters his third season at the helm.

The Eagles are now 1-12 all-time against Washington, and lost 97-72 the last time the two teams played in 2010. Eastern, with no seniors on its team, does not have any players on its current roster who played against UW in 2010. Eastern beat the Huskies in Seattle 62-58 in 2002, but has lost the eight meetings since then.

Eastern next hosts Walla Walla Tuesday (Nov. 19) at 6 p.m. at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Wolves are 0-8 this season following losses last week to Eastern Oregon (76-67) and College of Idaho (87-69). Eastern and Walla Walla, a NAIA independent, have played once before – an 89-61 Eagle win on Dec. 1, 2009.

Following that game it’s off to Irvine, Calif., to play in the 2K Sports Classic, where Eastern will play three games in three days from Nov. 22-24. The Eagles play Boston University, LIU Brooklyn and UC Irvine – teams which had a collective record of 58-43 (57 percent) a year ago, and were 34-18 (65 percent) in their respective leagues.

West Coach Conference powerhouse Saint Mary’s, which was 28-7 overall and 14-2 in the WCC in 2008, will usher in an equally difficult month of December when EWU travels to Moraga, Calif., on Dec. 8.

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