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Eastern Washington men’s basketball fades in second half, loses to Northern Kentucky

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The Eastern time zone hasn’t been kind thus far to the Eastern Eagles.

Traveling East for the first of three challenging road games, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team held a 24-21 lead in the first half but couldn’t keep up with Northern Kentucky in a 70-48 loss on Sunday.

An afternoon game in the Eastern time zone, the game started at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Northern Kentucky outshot Eastern 45 percent to 33 percent, and the Norse outscored Eastern 49-24 after the Eagles had taken a three-point lead late in the first half.

Eastern (8-3) saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end as it began a three-game road stretch. Eastern plays at 17th-ranked Xavier on Tuesday then at Colorado on Thursday. The combined record of EWU’s three opponents on this road trip is 25-8.

“Our team did a great job of putting the seven-game winning streak together,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “We just have to take the defeat we just took to make us better, and then use the next two games to improve. We’re going to keep the mood right as we face two very tough road games before Christmas. If I had to pick between being 8-3 or 3-8, I’d pick 8-3 and that’s what we are.”

The Norse held the Eagles to 24 points in each half, and held Eastern leading scorer Bogdan Bliznyuk to just 4-of-14 shooting from the floor. In taking away the drive game of the junior point-forward, Northern Kentucky held him to 12 points, nearly half of his 22.7 average entering the game which ranked 14th in NCAA Division I and second in the Big Sky Conference.

“They did a really good job defensively on Bogdan,” Hayford said. “There are other things we are trying to develop when opponents take that away, but we didn’t do that at a high enough level today. That’s why we got beat by 22.”

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