Eagles Fall to Gonzaga in Opener, 90-75

Nov. 10, 2006

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Spokane, Wash. -

Gonzaga used a 16-2 run to take a 55-36 lead at halftime and went on to defeat Eastern Washington 90-75 in the season-opening non-conference men's basketball game for both teams Friday (Nov. 10) at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.

Josh Heytvelt and Derek Raivio combined for 43 points in the win, including 27 in the first half on combined 11-of-15 shooting. Eastern was led by sophomore Rodney Stuckey with 18 points as he has now led Eastern in scoring in 28-straight games dating back to early last season.

The game was tied at 18 when GU went on its 16-2 run. The spurt gave the Bulldogs a 14-point lead, and the closest Eastern came after that was 12.

"We came out in the first five minutes with energy and seemed to have focus," said Eagle head coach Mike Burns. "We were playing reasonably well. But then we had a tough stretch where we had a couple of turnovers and they made a couple of baskets and got on a run."

Eastern had 15 turnovers in the first half which contributed greatly to Gonzaga's 55-point outburst. Eastern had only five turnovers in the second half when it out-scored GU 39-35.

"We didn't take care of the basketball," said Burns. "That is something we have to do. A lot of our turnovers were unforced."

Eastern continues its difficult early-season schedule in Las Vegas, Nev., to play UNLV on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The Eagles open their home schedule on Saturday, Nov. 18 against Lewis-Clark State followed by a home game versus Evergreen State on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

Heytvelt made 6-of-9 shots in the first half to score 14 points, and Raivio had 13 on 5-of-6 shooting with a trio of three-point baskets. Gonzaga made 61 percent of its shots in the first half.

For the game, Gonzaga made 53 percent as Heytvelt finished with 22 points and Raivio had 21.

"They did a very good job of moving the ball and moving our defense around," said Burns. "They did the things that we like to do. In that regard you have to take your hat off to them."

Stuckey had 14 points, three assists and four rebounds in the first half. But Eastern made just 12-of-29 shots for 41 percent, and Eagle starting power forward Derek Risper played just four minutes after picking up two quick fouls.

"He did a great job," Burns said of Stuckey, a pre-season All-American. "Our other guys had opportunities to knock shots down and we didn't take advantage."

Junior college transfer Omar Krayem had 11 points in his Eagle debut. Kellen Williams chipped in nine points and six rebounds. For the game, Eastern made 44 percent from the field and was out-rebounded 38-30.

Gonzaga extended three winning streaks the Bulldogs have compiled in recent years. The Bulldogs have never lost in the McCarthy Athletic Center in 29 games there since it opened in October 2004. Overall, they have a current 41-game home winning streak that leads NCAA Division I. The last time Gonzaga lost at home was 72-68 to Portland on Feb. 19, 2003.

Also, Gonzaga has won 21-straight games over the Eagles dating back to the 1989-90 season. The last time Eastern defeated the Bulldogs was on Jan. 8, 1990, in Spokane by a 70-55 score.

"We have some experienced guys on this squad, but we also have new players," added Burns. "This is a tough environment to play in. How do you respond when adversity strikes? We knew we would face some sort of adversity at some point and knew we would have to respond."

Eastern is coming off a season that saw it win seven more games than the 2004-05 EWU squad. Eastern finished 15-15 overall and 9-5 in the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles advanced to the Big Sky Conference Tournament semifinals, but lost to eventual champion Montana in overtime. The Grizzlies went on to win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Playing for a team with just one senior, Rodney Stuckey burst onto the scene with one of the best seasons by a freshman in NCAA Division I history. Among his many awards was being honored as Collegeinsider.com Freshman of the Year after a record-breaking season unmatched in the history of Eastern Washington and by any freshman in the 43-year history of the Big Sky Conference.

The 6-foot-4 guard from Kent, Wash., set seven school records, including a 24.2 scoring average per game that is a Big Sky record for a freshman and the seventh-best overall in the history of the league. His average ranked eighth in NCAA Division I. His 726 total points is fifth-best in league history, the most in the conference in nearly 30 years (since 1978-79) and the most-ever by a freshman in the BSC.

Stuckey became just the 36th player in NCAA Division I to lead his conference in scoring as a freshman. He won league MVP and Freshman of the Year honors, and in the process, became the first player in Big Sky history and the 12th in Division I history to earn league MVP honors as a freshman.

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