Nov. 29, 2006
Sophomore Rodney Stuckey had the ninth 30-point outing of his career and senior Derek Risper added a double-double as Eastern Washington held off Eastern Oregon 90-81 in a non-conference collegiate basketball game Wednesday (Nov. 29) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles opened a 21-point lead in the second half but had to bring back its starters down the stretch when the Mountaineers pulled to within six points with 1:57 to play. Eastern Washington, which didn't make a field goal in the last 6:48 of the game, clinched the win with six free throws in the last two minutes.
The NCAA Division I Eagles are now 4-3, while the Mountaineers are 7-2. Eastern Oregon, a NAIA Division II opponent from LaGrande, Ore., had won its first seven games of the season for its best start in school history under head coach Ryan Looney.
"I'm happy that we won the game," said Eagle head coach Mike Burns. "We have to tip our hats to coach Looney and his team for playing like a team that deserved to be in that game. And they were up until the end. Eastern Oregon is a good basketball team and they proved that with their hard play."
Stuckey scored 30 points to lead the Eagles in scoring for the 34th-straight game. He wasn't supposed to get a chance at his ninth 30-point game in 37 career games when he went to the bench late with the game seemingly in control.
But he had to return as the Mountaineers rallied, and drained four free throws in the last 41 seconds to finish 12-of-12 from the line. This week's Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, Stuckey made 9-of-18 shots from the field and added seven assists, six steals and five rebounds in 33 minutes of action.
Risper scored 16 points and had a career-high 12 rebounds as four Eagles scored in double figures. Omar Krayem added 14 and senior Paul Butorac chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Tanner McIntosh led Eastern Oregon with 21 points and eight rebounds and Derek Brown scored 20 with four rebounds and three steals. Paul Carollo had 11 points and Jeremy Templeton scored 12 with five assists. Brown and Templeton are both from Spokane.
"When we play with focus we can be really good, but when we lose that focus we're not very good," said Burns. "That being said, all respect goes out to coach Looney and those Spokane kids -- Derek Brown and Jeremy Templeton -- for coming out and playing a heckuva game in front of their friends and family."
Eastern Washington trailed early by seven at 28-21, but the Eagles went on a 12-2 run to close the first half and lead 41-37 at halftime. A 5-0 run to open the second half gave EWU a 46-37 advantage. Eastern Washington eventually built that lead to 77-56 and led 81-65 on a basket by Brandon Moore with 6:48 left as EWU began to pull its starters.
But the Eagles had seven turnovers in a stretch of just over four minutes to allow the Mountaineers back in the game. A basket by Brown with 1:57 to play pulled them to within 84-78 before EWU held on for the win.
Wednesday's game concluded a stretch of three games in six nights for EWU. The Eagles now head on the road for four-straight games, starting Sunday (Dec. 3) afternoon at Cal State Northridge.
"The four-game road trip will be tough," said Burns. "We have played a lot of games in a short period of time and we will continue to do that through Sunday. So again, the focus is something we will need on the road. If you want to win on the road you have to play better than the other team in terms of execution, effort, and focus. We will need that against Cal State Northridge."
The Matadors are 4-3, and average 86.4 points per game while allowing 80.4. They also force more than 22 turnovers per game but average nearly 25 themselves. On Nov. 15, the Matadors beat College of the Redlands 159-97.
"Cal State Northridge is a very athletic, talented team that has played great basketball so far this season.," added Burns. "They have a good shot at contending for the Big West title. Coach Braswell is a great coach and he will have them ready to play on their home court, which they defend very well. We will have to put our best foot forward on Sunday if we want to walk out with a win."
The Eagles entered Wednesday's game coming off a 110-100 shootout victory over Cal State Fullerton. Eastern's 110 points was the 13th-most in school history and the third-most versus a NCAA Division I opponent. The only other times Eastern scored more versus a D-I opponent were both against U.S. International (118-83 on Feb. 2, 1991 and 116-82 on Feb. 8, 1986).
The combined 210 points made it the fifth-highest scoring game in school history. The record was 225 in a 118-107 loss to Carroll College on Dec. 8, 1967.
Versus Cal State Fullerton, Stuckey led Eastern in scoring for the 33rd-straight game and added nine assists and five steals. However, he was just 11-of-25 from the field while the rest of his teammates made 33-of-47 for 70 percent. As a team, Eastern shot a blistering 61 percent from the field as six players scored in double figures.