Nov. 18, 2007
Junior guard Adris DeLeon provided a much-needed scoring punch with 22 points, but Washington had its own scoring punch in the first half as the Huskies recorded an 82-68 non-conference men's basketball victory over Eastern Washington Sunday (Nov. 18) at Bank of America Arena in Seatle, Wash.
DeLeon scored 16 second-half points to pull the Eagles to within 15 in the second half. That and 10-straight EWU points by Gary Gibson helped pull the Eagles to within 14 points, but Jon Brockman hit a pair of huge baskets down the stretch to help the Huskies survive.
"We had to re-capture our heart and our toughness a little bit, and I thought we did that in the second half," said Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine. "That made me happier."
DeLeon had 22 points, five assists and a pair of steals. Gibson chipped in 13 points and Matthew Brunell added 11. DeLeon, Gibson and Brunell were all playing in just their fourth NCAA Division I game.
"Some of our ball screens hurt them a little bit," said the first-year EWU head coach of EWU's second-half comeback. "We made better decisions off of those ball screens. Adris made really good decisions with the ball and got shots for his teammates. He did that early in the game today but we missed them."
"He has to continue to make the right decisions and trust his teammates," Earlywine added. "When he drives it in there and gets stopped he can't go crazy -- he has to get it out to guys that are open at the arc. He did a better job with that."
Brockman, Washington's 6-foot-7, 255-pound All-America candidate, led all scorers with 26 points. He made 13-of-19 shots from the floor and had eight rebounds.
"He's a load down there," Earlywine added. "We knew that going into the game, and I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to do anything to stop or slow him down. For the most part we didn't, but there are a bunch of people who can't do a lot with him either. So we are not alone."
The Eagles were out-rebounded 38-28 as they allowed the Huskies to grab 17 offensive rebounds. Washington made 51 percent of their shots in the game, including 58 percent in the first half. Eastern made just 34 percent in the first half but improved to 54 percent after intermission.
"No matter what happens on the offensive end of the floor for us, we still have to be competitive defensively and with our block-out," Earlywine said. "Our block-out was awful, and we don't have the size and athletic ability to not block out. We can't run to the front of the rim and think we are going to turn it into a run and jumping contest. We are not going to win an athletic contest against teams like Washington. We have to throw our bodies on them."
Eastern fell behind early 24-11, then found itself down 45-27 at halftime.
"We were certainly better and more competitive in the second half than we were in the first," said Earlywine. "I thought we got overwhelmed a little bit in the first half with Washington's length and quickness. They did a good job of pressuring us out of what we wanted to do offensively."
Washington led by as many as 24 at 62-38 before DeLeon took over. He scored eight-straight EWU points to pull the Eagles to within 64-49 with 8:11 to play.
A 7-0 run by the Huskies helped Washington regain a 22-point lead, then it was Gibson's turn to take over. He scored the first 10 points in a 12-0 run as the Huskies went scoreless for 2 1/2 minutes. Brunell's basket with 3:40 to play cut the lead to 71-61.
Despite Brunell's three-pointer that pulled EWU to within nine with 2:05 left, Brockman hit a pair of baskets in an 11-7 Washington run to end the game.
The Eagles are now 1-3 heading into this week's Carr's/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, Alaska. Eastern will take on Virginia Tech on Nov. 21, then play games on Nov. 23 and 24 in the eight-team tourney.
Washington, meanwhile, heads to New York City -- the hometown of DeLeon -- to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off Finals on Nov. 21 and 23. The Huskies are now 3-0.