Eastern Eagles hold on for a one point win at home
CHENEY, Wash. — After leading by as many as 17 in the first half, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team fell behind by six to Sacramento State in the second half before coming alive for a 77-76 victory Thursday (Feb. 20) in a Big Sky Conference game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Senior Mason Peatling led the Eagles with yet another big game, finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. He now has had 11 double-doubles on the season with eight in his last 10 games. Sophomore Kim Aiken Jr. scored 16 with four 3-pointers and six rebounds, and junior Jacob Davison chipped in 12 points and four assists.
Moments after Aiken hit a pair of 3-pointers to help EWU regain the lead, Peatling hit a clutch trey with two minutes left to put the Eagles up 75-71. Sac State missed five shots in a row in the last 3:15 after having made 18-of-23 (78 percent) in the half to that point, including a stretch of 10-straight.
“We’ve been in these games, and we understand how close they are going to be,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans. “But we stuck with it. Sometimes your scouting report burns you, but luckily we have some really good basketball players. They played really tough and they did a good job towards the end of that game.”
Eastern had a 29-27 rebounding advantage versus a Sacramento State team which had entered the game ranked second in the Big Sky and 77th nationally with a plus 3.8 per game. Eastern forged a 32-all tie in the previous meeting in Sacramento State, won by the Eagles 59-54 on Feb. 1.
With five games left in the league season before the Big Sky Conference Tournament, Eastern sits at 18-8 overall and 11-4 in the league. It’s already the school’s fifth-highest win total in 37 seasons as a member of Division I, and the sixth-most league wins in 33 seasons in the Big Sky
“We’re up to 18 wins and we’re still in second place,” said Legans. “We just keep moving forward and try to keep things rolling.”
Eastern had a huge shooting advantage in the first half when it led the entire half, going up but 15 with 4:42 left on a basket by Peatling. A 3-pointer by Davison gave EWU its biggest lead at 17, and EWU led 39-26 at halftime.
Led by Peatling’s 14 points in the first 20 minutes, Eastern made 10 of its first 13 shots and was at 52 percent for the half. Meanwhile, Sac State sank just 5-of-21 – including a string of seven-straight misses with no field goals in a 5:13 stretch – and shot just 33 percent in the half.
Eastern led by 10 on a 3-pointer by Aiken with 13:32 left, and nine with 11:47 to play on a basket by redshirt freshman Casson Rouse. Then things went awry as EWU went 4:22 without a field goal. Sac State took its first lead with nine minutes to play, then expanded it to six to complete the 15-0 run and go up 62-56 with 7:39 left.
Aiken, though, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give EWU back the lead at the 4:15 mark. Sac State hit a field goal with 3:18 left to pull within one, but then would miss its next five until scoring twice in the last four seconds. Meanwhile, Peatling’s 3-pointer and two free throws by Davison put EWU up 77-71 with 7.4 seconds to play.