January 27, 2007

Eastern Falls at Weber State 93-84

Jan. 27, 2007

Final Stats

Ogden, Utah -

Eastern Washington was hot, but Weber State was hotter in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Saturday (Jan. 27) at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah.

Eastern made 55 percent of its shots from the field, but Weber State's 67 percent shooting was too much for the Eagles to overcome as EWU lost 93-84 in a failed bid for its third-straight victory.

Rodney Stuckey had another sensational outing for the Eagles with a double-double that consisted of 29 points and a career-high 10 assists. He also led the Eagles with six rebounds and four steals, while Paul Butorac finished with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

"You can't be disappointed with what we did offensively," said Eagle head coach Mike Burns. "We had 84 points, 21 assists, only 11 turnovers and 55 percent shooting -- that's a good night offensively."

However, couldn't stop Weber State's David Patten and Dezmon Harris as they combined for 41 points on 14-of-20 shooting. Two other players scored 13 points each on 10-of-14 shooting. The Wildcats never trailed and held off several comeback attempts by the Eagles in the second half.

"At times we were pretty good," said Burns. "Defensively we allowed ourselves get screened along the baseline and at times it allowed them to get layups and open shots. We had a great effort on Thursday night, but we looked lethargic at times tonight. That's something we will improve upon."

It was Eastern's fifth split in five Big Sky weekends of action thus far as the Eagles are now 5-5 and caught in a logjam in the Big Sky race. Eastern is now 11-11 on the year while Weber State improved to 14-9 overall and 7-3 in the conference under first year head coach Randy Rahe. Coupled with Idaho State's home loss to Portland State, the Wildcats have moved into the conference lead for the first time this season.

Eastern fell behind by as many as 11 in the first half as Weber State used runs of 8-0 and 11-5 to take command. The Eagles trailed by five at halftime and were within two at 51-49 with 18:03 to play. Weber State led 67-54 when EWU went on a 12-2 run that included five points by Brandon Moore, including a three-point play that cut the lead to 69-66 at the 8:11 mark.

On the next possession, Patten hit a long three-pointer as the shot clock expired, giving Weber State a six-point advantage. Eastern cut the lead to three one more time, but Weber State went up by 11 again as the Wildcats made 10 free throws in the last 4:22 to seal it.

"That was obviously a huge, huge play," said Burns of Patten's trey. "We did a great defensively that possession. If he would have missed the shot, we could have gone to the other end with a chance to tie it. It was one of those plays where it probably changed the momentum of the game."

Eastern forced 16 turnovers, but was out-rebounded 34-20. Weber State missed only 16 shots in the game, but had 14 second-chance points as it grabbed nine offensive rebounds.

"At times I was disappointed with our defensive effort, but at other times we did a great job defensively," Burns added. "You have take your hat off to them for going 8-of-14 from the three-point line. We were down by three when Patten hit that long, 29-foot bomb at the end of the shot clock. You have to credit them for making a play. We will be in a better mode defensively next weekend."

Stuckey made 12-of-22 shots from the field and played all 40 minutes of the game. Kellen Williams was the third Eagle to score in double figures with 13 points and six rebounds.

Moore came off the bench to score five points and Matt Penoncello came off the bench to score seven points with four assists. Eastern played it second game without Omar Krayem because of a hand injury.

"Our bench has done a nice job," said Burns. "Those players came in and gave us good minutes."

Eastern is now 3-22 all-time in Ogden. All three of those victories have come in the previous six seasons (2000, 2001 and 2005).

Entering the game, the Wildcats were the league's top defensive team, allowing opponents to average just 65.4 points per game while the Eagles were first in offense at 86.0 per game. The Wildcats were also first in field goal shooting defense (.420) while Eastern was second in field goal percentage offense (.496).

The top six teams in the nine-team league advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament. The quarterfinals take place on March 3 and are hosted by the No. 3 and 4 seeds. The winners of those two games and the top two teams in the regular season standings receive byes to the semifinals on March 6. The semifinals, as well as the nationally-televised championship game the next night, are hosted by the regular season champion.

Eastern is now 4-9 away from home this season, with road victories at Sacramento State, Portland State, Northern Colorado and an 87-66 romp at Portland on Dec. 9. Among Eastern's road losses are setbacks to Gonzaga, UNLV, Washington, Santa Clara and Oregon -- all with at least nine wins each in non-league play. Three of those teams are or have been nationally ranked. In conference play, Eastern is 3-3 on the road and 2-2 at home.

Last year the Eagles were 6-1 at home in the Big Sky and were 3-4 on the road to finish third in the league at 9-5. Eastern beat Portland State in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Tournament, but fell to eventual champion Montana in overtime in the semifinals.

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