SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The good for Eastern Washington: The Eagles limited 16th-ranked Syracuse to 28 first-half points in Tuesday night’s season opener at the Carrier Dome.
The bad: scoring a meager 10 points.
The ugly: Syracuse’s eventual 66-34 rout of EWU, the Eagles’ worst offensive output of the 2010s.
EWU struggled against the Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone and full-court pressure, shooting 22 percent (13 for 59) from the field.
Syracuse, which returned all five starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team, also turned EWU’s 19 turnovers into 33 points.
Second-year head Eagles coach Shantay Legans accepted a lot of the blame for the lopsided loss.
“I didn’t have us prepared,” Legans said. “I didn’t do a good job getting us ready for their press.”
Missing four of its top eight players didn’t help EWU, either.
All-Big Sky Conference post Mason Peatling, guard Jacob Davidson and sharpshooting BYU transfer Steven Beo missed the game with injuries. Ty Gibson, who started at guard Tuesday, played just 8 minutes before he was sidelined with an apparent injury.
Legans didn’t use that as an excuse for EWU, which shot 6 for 35 from 3-point range, including three first-half air balls.
“We have other players here on scholarship, so I have to make sure they’re ready go,” Legans said.
The much longer, more athletic Orange held the Eagles scoreless for a 10-minute stretch in the first half, and took a 28-10 halftime lead.
Jim Boeheim’s squad scored 20 of the second half’s first 23 points, putting the game away.
It was the worst scoring output for EWU since a 91-34 loss at BYU in 2009.
Legans liked his team’s defensive energy, which helped EWU hold Syracuse to 38-percent shooting and 3 for 17 from the 3-point range.
“Defensively, we did do a good job of holding a team like that under 40 percent, and holding them under 20 percent from 3,” he said. “We gave up a great opportunity to come in here and try to get a win with numbers like that.”
Syracuse didn’t help itself at the free-throw line, shooting 15 for 28. EWU seldom reached the line, going 2 for 8.
Tyler Kidd’s nine points led EWU (0-1), which travels to 14th-ranked Oregon on Friday. Syracuse (1-0) was led by forward Oshay Brissett’s 20 points and eight rebounds.
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