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EWU’s hopes dwindle

GREELEY, Colo. – Everything Eastern Washington University learned about eliminating mistakes and making late-game winning plays in last weekend’s home sweep of Montana State and Montana proved to be of little value Thursday night as the Eagles relinquished another cushy second-half lead and suffered another disheartening 58-54 Big Sky basketball loss to Northern Colorado.

After building a 43-34 lead on Matt Brunell’s 3-pointer with just less than 11 minutes left, Eastern (8-19, 4-9 Big Sky) missed its next eight basket tries, went more than 91/2 minutes without a field goal and let the Bears (21-6, 10-4) loose on a 12-0 run that pretty much sealed their fate.

The Eagles scratched back to take a 54-53 lead on another 3-pointer by Mark Dunn with 30 seconds remaining, but never scored again in suffering a near-knockout blow to their hopes of qualifying for the BSC’s six-team postseason tournament.

The loss dropped Eastern into a seventh-place tie with idle Idaho State (7-19, 4-9) in the Big Sky standings, a full game behind sixth-place Portland State (10-16, 5-8), which suffered an 86-85 double-overtime road loss to Northern Arizona on Thursday.

Northern Arizona (12-13, 6-8), by virtue of that win, took over sole possession of fifth place but must deal with Eastern at home in a game in Flagstaff, Ariz., at 5:35 p.m. Saturday.

N. Colorado 58, EWU 54

 E. Washington (8-19, 4-9)- Dunn 1-6 0-0 3, Moore 2-3 2-2 6, Dean 2-9 2-2 8, Forbes 5-12 2-2 15, Winford 1-1 0-0 3, Valentine 2-6 0-0 6, Gibson 0-1 0-0 0, Griffin 3-3 1-2 7, Brunell 2-3 0-0 6. Totals 18-44 7-8 54.

N. Colorado (21-6, 10-4)- Kaba 4-8 3-3 14, Kingman 1-7 4-4 6, Proctor 4-7 3-4 11, Figures 6-11 7-8 23, Bonner 0-2 0-0 0, Lloyd 0-4 1-2 1, Brereton 0-0 0-0 0, Arnold 0-0 0-0 0, Osborne 0-2 0-0 0, Montgomery 0-3 3-7 3. Totals 15-44 21-28 58.

Halftime—N. Colorado 26-24. 3-Point Goals—E. Washington 11-24 (Forbes 3-8, Brunell 2-3, Dean 2-4, Valentine 2-5, Winford 1-1, Dunn 1-3), N. Colorado 7-18 (Figures 4-6, Kaba 3-5, Bonner 0-1, Lloyd 0-3, Kingman 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—E. Washington 29 (Griffin 6), N. Colorado 30 (Kaba 8). Assists—E. Washington 15 (Dean 6), N. Colorado 8 (Figures 3). Total Fouls—E. Washington 22, N. Colorado 16. A—1,572.

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