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Easy victory for Eagles

Eastern wallops Walla Walla

As tuneup opponents go, Eastern Washington’s men’s basketball team probably could have done better than Walla Walla University.

But the wounded and weary Eagles made the most of the opportunity Tuesday night by sticking with the game plan and getting some young players plenty of minutes in an 89-61 Reese Court rout of the NAIA Division II Wolves.

Not much of what transpired will aid Eastern (3-4) on Saturday, when it opens Big Sky Conference play on the road against Portland State. But Eagles coach Kirk Earlywine wasn’t complaining after watching his team snap a two-game losing streak, despite the absence of senior starters Mark Brunell and Brandon Moore, who are both nursing ankle injuries.

“Yes, we did get something out of this game,” Earlywine said. “We got some work on our zone offense, and we got four freshmen playing time – and there’s no substitute for that.”

The Eagles also did a good job of sharing the basketball, which resulted in a career-high 23 points for senior forward Mark Dunn, who dominated inside.

“Coach wanted us to go inside, and we did a really good job of that,” said the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Dunn, who made 9 of 12 field goals and 5 of 6 free throws. “Our guards were getting us the ball in there all night, and they passed up a lot of wide-open shots to do it.”

Senior guard Benny Valentine finished with 15 points, seven assists and two steals for the Eagles – an effort that drew praise from Earlywine.

“I thought Benny did a terrific job of sticking with playing the way we want him to play and not taking bad shots,” Earlywine said. “He got the ball moved and created shots for his teammates

“The challenge for Benny now is to see if he can play the right way in a big game – in a tight game – which they’re all going to be from now on.”

Along with the contributions of Dunn and Valentine, Eastern also got a combined 23 points from freshmen guards Glen Dean and Kevin Winford.

Walla Walla, despite its size and talent disadvantages, managed to stick with the Eagles throughout much of the first half – mainly because of the play of junior guard Jonny Long, who scored 13 of his team-high 17 points prior to intermission.

But Eastern closed the opening period with a 16-7 run that produced a 50-32 halftime lead that was never threatened.

Dunn finished the half with 17 points, while Winford added nine. Valentine scored only six points, but finished the period with six assists and a steal.

Earlywine said Moore and Brunell are both questionable for Saturday’s conference opener against PSU, but Dunn is holding out hope that both of his front- line teammates will be ready.

“We’re’ going to need them,” he said.

E. Washington 89, Walla Walla 61

 Walla Walla (2-9)—Greenidge 1-5 0-0 2, Spady 2-8 3-3 7, Dauphin 2-4 6-10 10, Moore 1-8 1-2 4, Long 5-6 6-6 17, Alemu 0-2 0-0 0, Gupilan 0-1 0-0 0, Urdahl 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 1-1 0-0 3, Sprenger 0-0 3-4 3, Talton 2-5 2-3 6, Mills 0-0 0-2 0, Edwards 3-7 1-2 8, Veal 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 17-50 23-34 61.

Eastern Washington (3-4)—Griffin 1-3 2-2 4, Dunn 9-12 5-6 23, Dean 5-7 0-1 12, Forbes 2-10 3-4 8, Valentine 5-12 2-2 15, Gibbs 2-7 2-6 6, Gibson 2-4 0-0 4, Winford 5-11 0-1 11, Demissie 3-8 0-0 6. Totals 34-74 14-22 89.

Halftime—E. Washington 50-32. 3-Point Goals—Walla Walla University 4-16 (Lewis 1-1, Long 1-2, Edwards 1-4, Moore 1-5, Greenidge 0-1, Alemu 0-1, Dauphin 0-2), E. Washington 7-27 (Valentine 3-6, Dean 2-4, Winford 1-6, Forbes 1-6, Gibbs 0-1, Gibson 0-2, Demissie 0-2). Fouled Out—Griffin, Talton. Rebounds—Walla Walla University 32 (Spady 7), E. Washington 53 (Gibbs 15). Assists—Walla Walla University 8 (Dauphin 4), E. Washington 28 (Forbes, Valentine 7). Total Fouls—Walla Walla University 21, E. Washington 24. Technical—Dean. A—1,341.

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