January 12, 2008

Eagles Fall Behind by 16 in First Half and Lose 74-64

Jan. 12, 2008

Final Stats

Simply put, turnovers and rebounding spelled doom for the Eastern Washington University's men's basketball team Saturday (Jan. 12) at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah.

Weber State jumped out to an early 16-point lead and held off Eastern's second-half comeback for a 74-64 Big Sky Conference win that spoiled the Weber State homecoming for first-year Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine.

Eastern fell behind at halftime 42-26 as the Wildcats out-rebounded Eastern 17-10 and scored 12 of their points off eight Eagle turnovers. Eastern rallied to cut the lead to four in the second half, but Weber State hit eight of their next nine shots to finish with a 56.3 percent shooting night -- the highest percentage the Eagles have allowed in 19 games this season.

"We battled our butts off to get it from 16 down to four," said Earlywine, who spent seven previous seasons as a Weber State assistant coach. "But there are only so many moral victories."

Coupled with 58-56 loss at Idaho State on Thursday, the Eagles were swept in their first conference road trip of the season to fall to 2-3 in the league. Eastern returns home for a single game Thursday (Jan. 17) against a Northern Colorado team that is currently 2-2 in the league with a recent conference victory over Weber State and a non-conference win at San Diego State.

Weber State, the defending regular season and tournament champions, improved to 2-1 in the league and 7-8 overall. Eastern is now 7-12 on the season.

"We certainly need a win," said Earlywine. "More importantly, we need to play well for 40 minutes."

Junior guard Adris DeLeon led the Eagles with 18 points, but he made only 5-of-14 shots from the field and had four turnovers in a season-high 38 minutes of action. Milan Stanojevic made a trio of three-pointers to finish with 11 points and three assists, but he was just 4-of-10 from the field. Eastern finished with a 42 percent shooting night.

Senior Kellen Williams added 11 points and six rebounds as he has now led Eastern in rebounding in 18 of 19 games this season, including a streak of 15-straight games. Eastern had a 20-11 rebounding advantage in the second half to win the battle in the game 30-28, but the 17-10 deficit in the first half was too much to overcome.

Eastern finished with a respectable total of 15 turnovers, but Weber State capitalized and scored 20 points off of them. Four Weber State players scored in double figures, led by Dezmon Harris with 17.

"We not only turned it over, but we turned it over to them for layups," said Earlywine. "We can't draw up a defense for that. We just can't throw the ball to the guys wearing the other color shirt. As ridiculous and simplistic as that may sound, it contributed to us getting beat."

"We compounded that by not competing on the backboards," he added. "We did in the second half and out-rebounded them, but in the first half we were completely out-competed. It's the coach's job to have the team ready, and we obviously weren't ready."

Weber State used an early 12-2 run to open a 19-6 advantage early. Weber State closed the half with a 10-2 spurt to open a 16-point at intermission thanks in part to 59 percent shooting from the field.

In the second half, Eastern held Weber State scoreless for a four-minute stretch during an 11-0 run, with Stanojevic hitting a pair of three-pointers and DeLeon adding one of his own. But the Wildcats scored on a pair of layups -- one on a fastbreak after an Eagle turnover -- to ignite a 12-3 run that bumped the lead back to 13. The closest EWU came after that was eight.

Eastern is now 3-23 all-time in Ogden.

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