Eastern withstood the full-court pressure of Seattle the best it could, but the Redhawks out-shot EWU significantly and defeated the Eagles 75-69 Monday (Dec. 10) in a non-conference game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Seattle made 50 percent of its shots from the field while the Eagles made only 37 percent. It was the fifth time this season Eastern has made less than 40 percent of its shots from the field.
“On a night where you shoot the ball poorly you have to rely on great defense and great ball handling, especially against a team that is pressing the entire 40 minutes,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “We did an above average job of a couple of those things. We did well defensively, and we did a decent job against a real good rebounding team. At the end of the day the way you win basketball games is putting the ball through the basket, and we did not shoot the ball up to the skill level I know my team can.”
Eastern’s shooting woes included a 6-of-27 performance from the 3-point arc for 22 percent. Kelly made just 1-of-8 3-pointers, senior starter Jeffrey Forbes was just 1-of-5 and senior sharpshooter Jordan Hickert made only one of four.
“I thought we executed well,” said Hayford. “I didn’t think any of the 21 misses from three were bad shots. We just have to make them.”
Three players scored in double figures for Seattle, led by Chad Rasmussen with 16. The Redhawks forced 16 turnovers, a reasonable amount considering their pressure defense. Seattle out-rebounded Eastern 43-37, but both teams had 11 offensive boards.
“I thought our preparation was good,” said Hayford of the turnovers EWU had, which led to 13 Seattle points. “But as we went through a couple sub rotations a few guys made a few mental errors, and they made us pay for that.”
Seattle jumped out to a 7-1 lead, but the Eagles responded to open its own six-point advantage at 15-9. The Redhawks took the lead for good with 9:05 left in the first half, and re-gained a six-point cushion before leading 33-30 at intermission.
The Redhawks opened their biggest lead of the night with 9:10 left in the game at 63-51, but a 7-1 Eastern run cut the lead to six. The closest EWU could get was five with 1:15 left, but EWU followed that my missing its next three field goal attempts.
Eastern now plays UC Davis on Dec. 17 before opening Big Sky Conference play at home. The Eagles will host Weber State on Dec. 20 at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time, then host Idaho State two days later at 2:05 p.m.