November 22, 2008

Eagles Outlast Defending Southland Champ 73-70

Nov. 22, 2008

Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

In an exciting men’s basketball contest Saturday (Nov. 22), the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team knocked off Texas Arlington 73-70 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. A potential game-tying three-point attempt by the Mavericks bounced off the front rim, hit the backboard, hit the front rim again and hung there for a second before falling out.

The impressive victory came against a team that had earned its first-ever NCAA Championship bid a year ago with a Southland Conference championship.  The tight game saw the teams tie on 12 occasions and swap leads 18 times.

Benny Valentine had 28 points in the contest to lead all players. He nailed 11-of-22 attempts from the floor. The junior guard also had four assists in the game. Brandon Moore contributed a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He also had three steals tonight. Milan Stanojevic tallied 17 points in the win.

Texas Arlington had early control in the contest, as the Mavericks went on a 9-2 run to reverse a 9-7 Eagle lead into an 18-11 UTA advantage with 10:16 to play before the break. That would turn out to be the largest lead of the entire night for the Mavericks. An 8-0 spurt by the Eagles that followed shortly thereafter moved a 20-15 deficit into a 23-20 Eastern edge with 5:08 left in the half.

After the teams returned from their respective locker rooms, Eastern used a 7-0 run to go up 40-35 with 16:21 showing on the clock. Valentine had a pair of lay-ups and a free throw to jump-start the run, while Matthew Brunnell nailed a jumper to close it out.

Valentine then had a lay-up with 9:11 to play to earn for Eastern Washington its largest lead of the night at 57-51. Then both teams went dry, as neither team was able to tally a point for the next 1:32 of play. The teams then battled down the wire, as neither team was able to garner greater than a five-point advantage the rest of the way.

The Mavericks immediately took the lead back by responding to Valentine’s basket with a 7-0 run for a 58-57 edge. After the teams battled tightly for the next four minutes, a Moore free throw tied the game at 66 with 2:40 to go and ignited a clutch 7-1 spurt down the stretch.

However, Texas Arlington nearly tied the contest after trailing by five, 72-67, with just nine seconds left. A Brandon Long three at that time cut it to 72-70 before Valentine converted on the first of two charity tosses to extend the lead back to three at 73-70 with five seconds left. Then came the hang-on-the-rim three attempt by UTA’s Jeremy Smith.

The Eagles return to the hardwood in just two days, playing host to Idaho at 7:05 p.m. Monday (Nov. 24).

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