Feb. 10, 2008
It was hard to tell who let the most chances slip away, Eastern Washington University or Northern Arizona.
The Eagles rallied from a pair of 13-point deficits in the final 13:42, but EWU couldn't make its biggest plays in the final seconds as the Lumberjacks survived for a 68-64 Big Sky Conference men's basketball victory Sunday (Feb. 10) afternoon at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.
The second rally came after NAU 6-foot-9 senior center Kyle Landry fouled out with 2:10 to play and the Lumberjacks missed seven key free throws in the final 1:06. But Eastern missed its last three shots in the final 17 seconds on a pair of possessions with at least a chance to tie the game. Earlier in the game, Eastern went over 10 minutes without a field goal as that stretch forced the Eagles to play catch-up the rest of the game.
Landry, the Big Sky's second-leading scorer with a 17.5 average, was the only Lumberjack in double figures as he finished with 22 points, including 11-straight Lumberjack points at one point late in the second half. He had a trio of three-point plays to help NAU re-gain a 13-point lead with five minutes left that barely held up for his team.
Kellen Williams led the Eagles with 18 points, and Brandon Moore nearly had his second double-double in the last three games with nine points and 11 rebounds. Milan Stanojevic added 12 points for the Eagles with four three-pointers. Stanojevic, who now has 62 treys this season to currently rank fifth in school history, scored nine of his points in the second half.
The loss dropped Eastern to 4-8 in the Big Sky and 9-17 overall as Eastern's Big Sky Tournament hopes were dealt another blow. The Eagles had snapped a four-game losing streak with a 59-57 triumph over Sacramento State on Thursday (Feb. 7).
Northern Arizona improved to 7-4 in the league and 15-9 overall as it kept its Big Sky title hopes alive. The Lumberjacks were leading the league until going on a three-game losing streak they managed to end versus Eastern.
With just four games left to play, the Eagles close their home schedule with home games this week versus Weber State (Feb. 14) and Idaho State (Feb. 16) in a pair of games that begin at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles are currently tied with Northern Colorado for seventh in the league standings and are two games out of sixth place in the standings. Only the top six teams in the league advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament, which is hosted by the regular season champion.
Eastern out-rebounded NAU 41-31, but the Eagles had 18 turnovers compared to 13 for the Lumberjacks. Eastern also made only 37 percent of its shots, including just 32 percent in the second half. Northern Arizona, the top shooting team in the league at 48 percent, finished at 42 percent. The Lumberjacks made only 5-of-18 three-point shots and were just 19-of-32 from the free throw line for 59 percent.
It was a nip-and-tuck game early, with the Eagles taking a 26-22 lead with 6:22 to play in the first half. But that was the last field goal the Eagles would get until Williams made a basket with 16:01 left in the second half that pulled EWU to within 40-30.
During that 10:21 stretch, Eastern was out-scored 18-2, including 15-0 to end the first half as the Lumberjacks led 37-26 at intermission. The Eagles missed 10 shots, two free throws and had eight turnovers during that field goal-less stretch.
Northern Arizona opened its biggest lead of the night at 45-32 with 13:42 to play, but Eastern went on an 11-2 run to pull within three with 9:16 left. That's when Landry took over, scoring three-point plays at the 9:06, 8:10 and 7:19 marks. Eventually, the Lumberjacks led again 59-46 with 4:57 remaining.
But again, the Eagles rallied with a 10-2 run, with a three-point play by Williams cutting NAU's lead to 61-56. Eventually, during a stretch when Northern Arizona made only 3-of-9 free throws, Eastern pulled within 66-64 on a three-pointer by Stanojevic.
But EWU's Adris DeLeon missed a driving layin with 17 seconds left and Matt Brunell could not tip-in the rebound. After NAU made a free throw with 10 seconds left to put it up by three, Eastern's Marcus Hinton missed a layin with a tick left on the clock when a three-pointer would have knotted the score and sent it into overtime.