Ducks Power Past Eagles 81-47 in EWU’s Second-Straight Loss Versus a Top 20 Team
EUGENE, Ore. — It will be nice to come home for the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team.
An early 6-5 Eagle lead was wiped out by a 24-0 Oregon run, and the No. 14/16 Ducks went on to hand Eastern its second-straight loss to teams ranked in the top 20 nationally by a 81-47 score Friday (Nov. 9) at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore. Eastern opened the season with at No. 16/14 Syracuse three nights earlier.
“We got taught a lesson by two really good teams,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans . “We are going to take these back and get better and get smarter. We’ll use this experience to move forward and be the best team we can be. We’re trying to make that happen by Big Sky play.”
The Eagles hit 13 out of a school-record 45 three-point attempts, but Oregon’s 7-foot-2 Bol Bol was triple trouble for the Eagles, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. The son of the late Manute Bol who played in the NBA for Golden State and Philadelphia, Bol Bol sank 9-of-16 shots from the field as the Ducks out-shot the Eagles 49 percent to 23 percent for the game.
“He wasn’t a center either – he played a wing position,” said Legans. “It’s kind of tough to have to put smaller guys on him and to see him go to work. They are a good team and well-coached, and they are going to be good down the road. It’s going to be fun to watch Oregon and Syracuse as the season goes along and to say we played them. Hopefully we get the opportunity again — these are two NCAA Tournament teams.”
Senior Cody Benzel sank five of EWU’s 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 16 points. Senior Jesse Hunt had three on his way to nine points and a team-high eight rebounds. The Ducks had a 30-2 advantage in points in the paint, 12-2 in points off turnovers and 16-6 in fastbreak points
Eastern played without four players – Mason Peatling , Jacob Davison and Steven Beo – plus senior Ty Gibson . Gibson did not play versus the Ducks because of an injury in the first half versus Syracuse after playing just eight minutes.
The Ducks, the favorite to win the Pac-12 Conference title, are ranked 14th in the Associated Press preseason poll and 16th in the USA Today Coaches rankings. The Orange entered the EWU game ranked 16th and 14th, respectively, and came away with a 66-34 victory.
The game was the first of two preliminary games of the 2K Empire Classic Benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. The Eagles next play a sub-regional round of the tournament at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., taking on Green Bay next Friday (Nov. 16) and then either UMKC or Morehead State the next day.
Records . . .
* Eastern is now 0-2 after closing the 2017-18 season with a 20-15 record in their 35th season as a member of NCAA Division I after finishing 13-5 in the league during their 31st season as a member of the Big Sky Conference. Eastern made its fourth-straight national postseason appearance when the team competed in the 2018 College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
* Now 2-0 this season, a year ago Oregon was 23-13 overall (10-8 Pac-12) and advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). In their season opener on Nov. 6, the Ducks jumped out to a 45-29 halftime lead and beat Portland State 84-57. Oregon made 62 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes and 54 percent in the game, and had four players score in double figures.
What’s Next . . .
* Eastern will host Green Bay on Nov. 16 and either UMKC or Morehead State on Nov. 17, respectively, as part of a sub-regional of the 2K Empire Classic benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. The Eagles will also host powerhouse South Dakota State on Dec. 18, and Corban University on Dec. 21.
* After the 2K Classic sub-regional at Reese Court, the Eagles play their next five games on the road — Washington, Seattle, North Dakota State and Stanford. Last season, in just the third game under Legans, Eastern upset Stanford 81-67 on Nov. 14, 2017.
Top Performers . . .
* Senior Cody Benzel out of Spokane’s Ferris High School sank 5-of-11 shots – all from the 3-point arc, to finish with a team-high 16 points. He made his 28th start of his career and had his 17th performance of scoring in double figures.
* Senior Jesse Hunt nearly had his third career double-double, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds. He made 3-of-7 shots from the field and also had a blocked shot.
* True freshmen Tanner Groves and Elijah Jackson both made their first 3-pointers as Eagles. Groves is from Spokane’s Shadle Park High School and finished with six points, a rebound and a blocked shot. Jackson, out of Chief Sealth High School in Seattle, finished with five points and had a pair of rebounds with a steal.
* Sophomore Luka Vulikic had eight rebounds and six assists for the Eagles, but made just 1-of-9 shots to finish with three points.
Key Stats . . .
* Aside from an early 0-of-19 shooting stretch, Eastern sank 15-of-46 shots for a more respectable 33 percent. Oregon sank 49 percent of its shots in the game and had six blocked shots, while Eastern made 23 percent. The biggest lead for the Ducks was 42 points with 3:29 left in the game.