MENâ€™S BASKETBALL SUFFERS BIG FIRST HALF DROUGHT IN LOSS AT EASTERN WASHINGTON
CHENEY, Wash. - Eastern Washington scored the game’s first 17 points and led from start to finish on the way to a 67-46 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at Reese Court.
Sacramento State wound up scoring just nine points in the first half, setting the program record for fewest points in a half (the original mark was 12 at Oregon State in 1997). During tonight’s first stanza, Sacramento State shot just 3-of-17 (.176) from the field while committing 14 turnovers.
The Eagles tallied 24 points off those 14 turnovers, and held the Hornets scoreless until the 12:27 mark when a lay-up from Justin Eller mercifully ended the drought. By that time, Eastern Washington had already established a 17-2 lead and led by at least 14 points the rest of the game.
Conversely, in the first half, Eastern Washington shot 54.8 percent (17-31) from the field while turning the ball over just four times. During the first half, the Eagles outscored the Hornets in the paint (24-4), off turnovers (24-2), second-chance points (4-0), fast break points (6-2) and bench points (12-2).
With the loss, Sacramento State, which remained winless on the road this season, dropped to 2-21 overall and 1-9 in the Big Sky. The Hornets lost both games to Eastern Washington this season, and have now lost seven in a row to the Eagles dating back to 2006. Sacramento State has just six games remaining on the schedule, four of which will take place on the road.
Eastern Washington snapped a six-game losing streak and improved to 10-13 overall and 4-7 in the Big Sky. The Eagles improved to 7-3 at home and moved into seventh place in the conference, just a game back of sixth place. The top six teams in the nine-member league advance to the Big Sky Tournament (March 7-11).
To the Hornets’ credit, the team did bounce back after halftime, outscoring the Eagles, 37-26, in the second half. After converting on just three field goals in the first half, the Hornets went 13-of-25 (.520) from the field and turned the ball over just five times in the second half. The team, however, dug itself too big a hole to make any realistic threat during the second stanza.
Eastern Washington finished the game shooting 47.3 percent (26-55) from the field and outrebounded the Hornets, 39-21. Although 14 of those 39 Eagle rebounds came on the offensive glass, EWU was able to generate just 10 second-chance points. Sacramento State finished at 38.1 percent (16-42) from the field, 40.0 percent (4-10) from the three-point line and 71.4 percent (10-14) from the charity stripe.
No player had more than 14 points in the contest as the Eagles had three players score in double figures, comprised of Brandon Moore (14 points, eight rebounds), Andy Genao (13 points, nine rebounds) and the Big Sky’s leading scorer Benny Valentine (11 points).
For the Hornets, senior Loren Leath led the way with a team-high 12 points and a game-high four steals. Joining Leath in double figures was senior Randy Adams who finished with 11 points and a team-high five rebounds. Junior Justin Eller, who entered the game tied for the Big Sky lead in rebounding, finished with just two boards. Eller also finished with seven points and two steals. No other Hornet scored more than five points as Sacramento State received just 22 points from its starters. Nine of the squad’s 12 players in the game committed at least one turnover.
Sacramento State concludes its two-game road trip this Sunday, Feb. 8, against Portland State at 1 p.m. The game is being televised locally on Comcast SportsNet California, and on the Altitude Sports & Entertainment network. Free online webcasts are also being provided by www.espn360.com, and www.bigskytv.org.