Eagles snap seven-game losing streak, with Montana visiting Cheney Sunday at 1 p.m. - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles snap seven-game losing streak, with Montana visiting Cheney Sunday at 1 p.m.

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The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team snapped a seven-game losing streak by defeating Montana State 74-69 in a Big Sky Conference game Friday (Feb. 12) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Freshman Glen Dean scored seven of his 12 points in the final 1:06 as the Eagles improved to 3-8 in league play and 7-18 overall. Until Friday's victory, Eastern hadn't won in more than a month since beating Montana State 75-73 on Jan. 10 on a shot with 3.8 seconds left by Dean.

The Bobcats fell to 7-6 in the Big Sky and 12-12 overall.

"I'm extraordinarily proud -- more than any game this year," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "We were able to make plays down the stretch to win the game. I thought that showed unbelievable wherewithal by our team tonight."

Eastern next plays Sunday (Feb. 14) against Montana at 1:05 p.m. Pacific time in a game televised on Altitude Sports and Entertainment. It will also be broadcast via radio in the Spokane area on 1510am and may be viewed via the internet at www.bigskytv.org.

Five Eagles scored in double figures, led by the 19 of freshman Kevin Winford, who made all six of his free throws. Dean made 7-of-8 as the Eagles finished 20-of-22 as a team.

A third freshman, Jeffrey Forbes, added 17 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists. Brandon Moore chipped in 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Mark Dunn added 10 points. Dean also had four assists and four rebounds despite making only 2-of-9 shots from the field.

"Glen didn't have his best game, but down the stretch I felt perfectly comfortable putting the ball in his hands," Earlywine said. "It wasn't necessarily so he could hit a shot, but I felt pretty comfortable he would make the right decisions and right plays."

Senior Benny Valentine sparked the Eagles with five points, four assists and a steal.

"It probably wasn't the best game Benny Valentine has played at Eastern, but I thought he showed more character tonight than in any game this year," praised Earlywine. "He had four assists and didn't force plays -- he was outstanding."

Eastern had 15 turnovers to just eight by the Bobcats, but the Eagles out-shot MSU 42 percent to 39 percent. Eastern made 54 percent of its shots in the second half.

The Eagles jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead and led 14-5 just 5:41 into the game. But the Eagles went cold and didn't score for the next 6 1/2 minutes as MSU went on an 8-0 run. The Bobcats eventually led by as many as five before leading 32-28 at halftime.

Eastern made just 32 percent of its shots in the first half, including only 3-of-12 three-pointers.

The game was tied at 42 before Eastern went on a 10-0 run and eventually led by as many as 12. But a 16-1 Montana State run gave the Bobcats a 60-56 lead with 5:05 to play.

But a three-pointer by Winford and a basket by Forbes helped Eastern regain the lead, and Dean's three-pointer with 44 seconds left gave EWU the lead for good. Valentine, Dean and Forbes each made a pair of free throws in the final 28 seconds to clinch the win.

Montana is coming off a 81-74 victory over Portland State on Friday, and has won its last five games and eight of its last nine after a 1-3 start. Now 9-4 in the league and 18-7 overall, the Grizzlies began that current run with a 79-66 victory over the Eagles on Jan. 8 in Missoula. In that game, Eastern had 22 turnovers to just seven for the Grizzlies. It was the largest turnover margin of the season for EWU, which allowed Montana to score 32 points off those miscues.

Two days later, Eastern registered a huge 75-73 victory over the Bobcats in Bozeman when freshman Glen Dean made a driving layup with 3.8 seconds remaining.

Following this week's games, Eastern plays its final road games of the season at Northern Colorado on Feb. 18 and Northern Arizona on Feb. 20. The regular season ends for the Eagles with home games against league-leader Weber State on Feb. 26 and Idaho State the next night.

The Eagles entered Friday's game having already equaled the school's longest losing streak since 2004-05 when that squad lost seven-straight early in the year. The last time EWU has had a longer losing skid came in 1996-97 when the Eagles lost 11-straight league games and went from Jan. 11 to Feb. 27 between victories.

 

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