CHENEY, Wash. - Senior Mark Dunn scored a career-high 23 points as the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team trounced NAIA Division II independent Walla Walla University 89-61 Tuesday at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
That game was the final warm-up for the Eagles before the start of Big Sky Conference play on Saturday (Dec. 5) -- the earliest it's ever been for Eastern. Eastern travels to Portland, Ore., to face Portland State in the Big Sky opener for both schools. So far this season, the Eagles are 3-4 and PSU is 1-4 heading into its game against Portland on Dec. 2. Walla Walla is now 2-9.
Eastern led from start to finish against Walla Walla, with Dunn scoring 17 of his points in the first half as EWU opened a 50-32 lead. He was one of four Eagles to score in double figures in the game as the largest lead for the Eagles came with 4:45 left at 32 points (86-54).
Other Eagles in double figures included senior Benny Valentine with 15, freshman Glen Dean with 12 and freshman Kevin Winford with 11. Valentine and freshman Jeffrey Forbes each had seven assists, and freshman Abebe Demissie chipped in five assists, six points and 10 rebounds. Alden Gibbs had four steals and a game-high 15 rebounds.
Valentine made 5-of-12 shots from the field with a trio of three-pointers, and also had seven rebounds and a pair of steals.
"I thought Benny Valentine did a terrific job of sticking to the way we want him to play," Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine said. "He didn't take bad shots, and he kept the ball moving and created shots for his teammates. The challenge now for him is to play the right way in a big game and a tight game, which they are all going to be from now on."
Despite playing without a pair of starting post players out with ankle injuries, Brandon Moore and Matthew Brunell, Eastern out-rebounded the Wolves 53-32. The Eagles also held them to 34 percent shooting, including just 27 percent in the second half.
The Eagles made 45 percent of their shots in the game, including a 48 percent first half and 44 percent after intermission. Eastern, however, made only 7-of-27 three-pointers for 26 percent, and had 17 turnovers.
Dave Cook, Sports
Easter Washington University