Eastern Washington falls to Seattle U 84-65 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eastern Washington falls to Seattle U 84-65

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By EWU Athletics

Despite a welcome week of practice at home, the road still wasn't kind to the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team.
 
Seattle made 51 percent of its shots while EWU – which hadn't played in over a week -- struggled to a 39-percent afternoon, and the Eagles lost to the Redhawks 84-65 on Sunday (Dec. 3) at KeyArena.
 
The Eagles, now 3-5, were facing former EWU head coach Jim Hayford, whose first Redhawks team is now 5-4 with a three-game winning streak. Eastern was playing its seventh of 10-straight games away from Reese Court in Cheney. Seattle's winning streak were all home games, and the Redhawks are a perfect 4-0 this season on their own court.
 
"We're going to learn from this game and take our bumps and bruises home," said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans, whose team returns to action on Thursday (Dec. 7) at San Francisco. "Tough times make tough teams, and I think we're going to be okay. We'll be ready our next game, I can promise you that."
 
The Redhawks used a 20-6 run to lead by 13 at halftime, then scored 23 of the first 29 points to start the second half to build a 32-point lead. Eastern ended the game with a 26-13 run to cut the lead to the final margin of 19, but the damage was done much earlier as the Redhawks led the entire game and by no less than 19 in the final 14 minutes.
 
Sophomore Ty Gibson and true freshman Richard Polanco led the Eagles with 10 points each.
 
 "We'll adjust and get better," vowed Legans. "We'll get our guys prepared and they'll know exactly what it will take to win these kind of games."
 
 
Records . . .
 
* The Eagles are now 3-5 on the season, with their last victory coming on Nov. 24 by an 83-62 score against Eastern Kentucky in the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas. Eastern hadn't played since falling 85-69 at Utah on Nov. 24. The Eagles are coming off a third-straight appearance in a national postseason tournament, and were 22-12 overall a year ago. Eastern finished 13-5 in the Big Sky to finish second behind regular season champion North Dakota, and then the Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament.
 
* Seattle is now 5-4, and entered the game averaging 78.5 points per game under Jim Hayford. The associate head coach for the Redhawks is former Eastern assistant Chris Victor, and the team had four players averaging in double figures through eight games. Seattle entered averaging 9.0 3-pointers made per game on an average of 26.9 attempts per game – both trademarks of Hayford-coached teams.
 
 
What it Means . . .
 
* Eastern will return home for finals week at EWU before playing three more on the road. The Seattle game was the first of four games in a 10-day stretch for the Eagles, but they were coming off a season-opening stretch that included seven games in a 15-day span. Thus far, the highlight of season has been EWU's 67-61 victory over Stanford on Nov. 14 in EWU's first win over a Pac-12 opponent since 2002.
 
 
What's Next . . .
 
* Eastern will go back on the road for games at San Francisco (Dec. 7), South Dakota (Dec. 10) and Wyoming (Dec. 12) before returning to Reese Court for a pair of pre-Christmas home games. The Eagles will host Cal State Northridge on Dec. 17, then host the University of Providence from Great Falls, Mont., on Dec. 20.
 
 
Keys to Game . . .
 
* At one point in the second half, the Redhawks were shooting at a 26-of-43 clip (60 percent), and at the same time the Eagles were just 13-of-41 (32 percent).
 
 
Turning Point . . .
 
* Although the Eagles were down by 13 at halftime, Eastern opened the second half by missing nine of its first 10 shots. Meanwhile, Seattle made 10 of its first 15 to open a 71-39 lead with 8:23 left in the game. At one point the Redhawks had a 14-0 run as the Eagles had just one field goal in the first 9:56 of the second half.
 
 
Top Performers . . .
 
* Sophomore Ty Gibson scored all 10 of his points in the second half, making 3-of-6 from the field and 2-of-5 from the 3-point stripe.
* True freshman Richard Polanco also scored 10 points, making four of six shots.
* Senior Bogdan Bliznyuk, a candidate for Big Sky Conference Player of the Year honors, was held to four points on 2-of-6 shooting from the field. He went into the game averaging 15.6 points on the season.
 
 
Key Stats . . .
 
* The Eagles finished the game making only 39 percent of their shots from the field and just 21 percent (6-of-29) of their 3-point attempts. Meanwhile, Seattle sank 51 percent overall and 9-of-17 from the 3-point stripe for 53 percent. While Eastern's bench had a 32-6 scoring advantage, Seattle's starters out-scored EWU 78-33.
 
 
Other Team Highlights . . .
 
* Ty Gibson scored all eight Eagle points during an 8-0 run in the second half, including both of his 3-pointers in the game. The Eagles held Seattle scoreless for nearly three minutes, including no field goals for a 5:36 stretch.
 
 
Notables . . .
 
* The Eagles are in the midst of a stretch of 36-straight days without a home game – one of just four NCAA Division I teams with such a road stretch this year. Eastern's 15-day road trip from Nov. 11 to Nov. 25 is the books, but there are more travel miles ahead. Eastern plays four more road games before a pair of pre-Christmas home games. The first leg of EWU's road stretch included 4,432 airline miles, while the other trips in the road stretch will include 6,408 miles. That's a total of 10,840 air miles, not including ground travel.
 
 
Comments from Head Coach Shantay Legans . . .
 
On Eagles Early in the Game Against Their Former Coach: "Seattle came out and made some threes, and we hung their heads a little bit. We got a little tight and maybe the guys saw that in me. I have to do a better job of masking my emotions during the game. They followed my lead and I have to have to do a better job of getting them mentally prepared for games like this."
 
On Defense Versus Redhawks: "Our extra help gave them some open threes early in the game, and they shoot a lot of threes. We have to do a good job of knowing who we are helping off of. We need to get our players in positions where they are going to be successful, and that's my job. We'll get there, but I have to do a better job of getting our players in the right positions."
 
On Press in Second Half: "Our guys stopped thinking a little bit I think, and just started playing. That's when they play at their best. Maybe we should have gone to that sooner and got them into something where they were just going downhill and playing. We have to go back with the staff and see how we can get better. Right now we're not scoring the ball well enough."
 
On Playing In-State Rival: "This is not a defining game, but we wanted to win it – it's an in-state rival game. We want to beat everybody we play in Seattle and Washington. It's one of the games our guys really, really wanted to win. I didn't do our team justice in getting them prepared – and we have a really good team."
 
On Upcoming Finals Week: "Our players have finals, but they've been on top of their grades and have done terrific in school. I want the players to do really well in school, so this week we'll just do some spot practices. We'll make sure they do what they need to do academically and keep their grades up. Our last quarter team GPA was a 3.71, and that's pretty good – I want to keep it around that area. I wish we could hit threes like we hit our GPA. We have to knock it out like they knock it out in the classroom. I think we'll get there."

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