Pick a Cliff, either Cliff, and you can probably write an intriguing – and fitting – storyline about what happened at Reese Court on Saturday night as Eastern Washington University dug out a huge 83-70 men’s basketball victory over Big Sky Conference rival Idaho State.
“Big Cliff” Ederaine and “Little Cliff” Colimon, a pair of first-year junior college transfers, were two of six Eagles to score in double figures, and both came up with solid defensive efforts and a couple of big second-half plays as Eastern (7-14 overall, 4-5 Big Sky) overcame a 33-30 halftime deficit to put away the Bengals (6-15, 2-7).
Ederaine, a 6-foot-7 forward, finished with 13 points and six rebounds, and knocked down an unlikely shot clock-beating 3-pointer – on his first such attempt of the season, no less – with just less than a minute left in the game.
Colimon, a 6-0 guard, scored 10 points, dished out four assists and did a terrific defensive job on ISU’s Broderick Gilchrest, holding the Bengals’ leading scorer to just six points, nine less than his average.
The Eagles also got a team-high 17 points from Glen Dean, 15 from Jeffrey Forbes, 14 from Kevin Winford and 11 from Laron Griffin while moving into a tie for fifth place with Portland State in the Big Sky standings, percentage points ahead of Northern Arizona (3-4) and two games ahead of the eighth-place Bengals.
“If you want to get where we want to go, which is, No.1, to the conference tournament, and No. 2, to get a home game, you have to hold serve at home,” Eagles coach Kirk Earlywine said.
“I thought in the second half, offensively, our ball movement was really good. We did a nice job of moving the ball, finding the open man and getting good looks.”
As a result, Eastern connected on 66.7 percent (16 of 24) of its second-half shots, including 9 of 12 3-pointers, and reeled in an ISU team that got a game-high 24 points from Kenny McGowen.
Deividas Busma, a 7-foot senior center, added 19 points for the Bengals. But it was the lack of production from Gilchrest that hurt them the most.
“Obviously, he was the focus of our game plan – him and Busma,” Earlywine said of Gilchrest, who made only 2 of 9 field-goal attempts and went 0 for 2 from behind the 3-point line. “I thought Colimon did a really good job on him.
“Part of the reason we recruited him is because he’s a real good on-ball defender, and that – Little Cliff on Gilchrest – may be the story of the game.”
Colimon credited his effectiveness on stopping Gilchrest on preparation.
“The coaches scouted him really well,” Colimon said. “They told me he was going to come off a lot of screens and drive to the right when he got the ball. All I had to do was deny him.”
The Eagles opened the second half with a 7-2 run that was fueled by back-to-back 3-pointers by Colimon and opened up a 70-55 lead when Colimon scored again on a short jumper in the lane. The Bengals managed to close to within 74-66 with just more than 2 minutes left, but were finished when Ederaine hit his desperation 3 from the right corner.
“It’s a step forward for us, because it’s our first winning streak of the year,” Colimon said. “It gives us a lot of confidence, but now we have to go win on the road.”
The Eagles, who have lost 17 straight road games, will play at Northern Colorado on Thursday.
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