Feb 1, 2013 12:07 AM by MTN Sports
CHENEY, WA - Eastern Washington opened the second half with a 9-1 run and closed it by hanging on for dear life, topping Montana State 72-68 in Cheney on Thursday.
The Bobcats trailed by 13 with 8:17 to play when Eastern's Martin Seiferth scored on a layup, and by 10 with just over five minutes to play. But Flavien Davis' three-pointer started a 9-0 Bobcat run that pulled MSU to within 64-63 with 2:53 to play.
"We were right there, but that was too deep of a hole," said MSU coach Brad Huse. "We just weren't clicking - bad shot selection, we missed some shots - and they were. The hit open shots, and their size bothered us when we got to the rim. But our guys are resilient, they compete hard. We could have tied or taken the lead late a couple of times, but that game was not lost in the last couple of minutes."
A pair of Kelly Parker free throws gave Eastern a 66-63 lead. After Calen Coleman split a pair of free throws to pull the Bobcats within two points, Flavien Davis blocked a Kevin Winford layup and gathered in the rebound. But a Bobcat turnover gave Easter the ball, and Collin Chiverton's jumper restored Eastern's four-point lead.
A pair of Davis free throws pulled the Cats with 68-66, and after Coleman rebounded an Eagle miss the Bobcats again had a possession to tie or take the lead. But Davis missed a three-pointer that Huse described as a good look, and the Bobcats would not have a chance to tie again. Eastern hit all four of its free throws in the last 30 seconds.
The game's final minutes played out with each team down an important player. Paul Egwuonwu scored 10 points powered by an 8-for-12 showing from the line, and grabbed seven rebounds, but he was knocked out of the game in the second half after bumping heads with Davis on a rebound attempt. "That's an awfully important piece of our team," Huse said. "Paul was getting to the line, and it was just a fluke deal (that caused the injury)."
Eastern's Venky Jois scored eight points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished out seven assists, but an injury shelved him for the game's final six minutes or so. "He is a good player, and that impacted their team, not having him in the last six minutes," Huse said. "
While the Bobcats defended well, holding Eastern to 40% shooting on the night and just 27% in the second half, and out-rebounded the Eagles 45-to-41, MSU struggled offensively. MSU shot 10-for-33 in each half, finishing the night at 30.3% shooting. While Davis led the Bobcats with 12 points, Chiverton paced the Eagles with 20.
While Eastern Washington's second-half surge proved decisive, the Eagles also built a double-digit lead before halftime. Chiverton's three-pointer near the 10-minute mark began a 13-4 run that gave EWU a 28-18 lead with 6:19 remaining in the first half. The Eagles still led by 10 nine minutes later, but a three-pointer by Christian Moon and a layup by Michael Dison cut that margin in half at the intermission.
The Bobcats travel to Portland State for an 8:35 pm game on Saturday, while Eastern Washington hosts Montana.