For the Eastern Washington men’s basketball reserves, playing the University of Great Falls (NAIA) can mean a chance to set career highs.
After Cody Benzel shattered his career high with 23 points last year against the Argos, sophomore guard Ty Gibson put together a similar performance with 19 points (6 of 7 from 3-point range) in Eastern’s 103-76 thumping of UGF on Thursday at Reese Court in Cheney.
“That’s by far the best shooting game I’ve had since I’ve been there,” Gibson said, whose six 3-pointers were a career high. “It felt good to see the first two go down, that definitely builds confidence for the rest of the game. A lot of it was just my teammates finding me in the open spot.”
It was all Eagles from the beginning. EWU went on a 38-4 run in the game’s first 12 minutes, 33 seconds, helping open a 51-22 halftime lead. EWU shot 52.9 percent from the field in the first half.
Jumping out to an early lead allowed the Eagles to get many players minutes, with 13 players receiving minutes and 11 players scoring points.
“(In a game like this) what you are doing is giving every player an opportunity,” EWU head coach Jim Hayford said. “You just want to see guys make the most of it.”
Gibson, an Issaquah High School product, did just that, scoring 19 points in just 11 minutes.
“Our default in our recruiting is highly skilled offensive players. I’m not surprised at all that Ty played this well,” Hayford said. “Coming out of high school, he was one of the best players you are going to get out of one of the state’s best leagues, the KingCo.”
Hayford said he was also impressed with freshman forward Mason Peatling, who had five points, three assists and two rebounds in 13 minutes of action.
While satisfied with the Eagles’ offensive outburst in the first half, Hayford said there was much to be desired on the defensive end in the second half, where Great Falls outscored the Eagles 54-52.
“We showed we aren’t at the place maturity-wise to go in and play with the intensity you need in the second half,” Hayford said. “But that’s hard when you are up by 30.”
Along with Gibson in double-figure scoring was Bogdan Bliznyuk (16), Felix Van Hofe (13) and Jacob Wiley (10). Wiley led the Eagles with rebounds.
Eagles guard Washington doesn’t play in first half
Eastern Washington guard Sir Washington didn’t see action to get Michael Wearne more playing time, according to Hayford.
“That was it more than anything else,” Hayford said.
“Sometimes it’s hard when you are that 7-8-9 guy (in the rotation), because when coach wants to get 10-11-12-13-14 more time, and still want to give the starters time, it’s hard to be that guy.”
Washington finished with seven points on 3-of-shooting in the second half. Wearne had one rebound and was held scoreless in 9 minutes.
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