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Eastern Washington can’t overcome cold shooting in loss to Sacramento State

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 28, 2019

Eastern Washington's Tanner Groves calls for a pass while defended by a Sacramento State player on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Cheney, Wash. (EWU Athletics / Courtesy)
Eastern Washington's Tanner Groves calls for a pass while defended by a Sacramento State player on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Cheney, Wash. (EWU Athletics / Courtesy)

Shantay Legans couldn’t remember the last time Eastern Washington shot this poorly in Cheney.

The second-year head coach was in a state of disbelief Thursday following EWU’s 59-56 loss to Sacramento State, a game in which the Eagles were a chilly 33 percent from the field.

The game was choppy, totaling 41 fouls.

It was sloppy, too (32 total turnovers).

But Legans, whose seven-game home winning streak was snapped, was quick to point to why EWU (11-17, 9-8 Big Sky) was atypically out of rhythm at Reese Court.

“Sac State came out and had a great game plan – they played well against us and were tough,” Legans said. “We space the floor so well and have players who can make plays, but at the same time they make the game choppy and foul our bigs. They come underneath, bump cutters and limit our freedom of movement.”

Sacramento State (13-13, 7-10) didn’t give the Eagles a chance at a game-tying 3 in the final minute of regulation, sending the sputtering Eagles to the free-throw line.

Tyler Kidd’s 3-pointer gave EWU a 54-52 lead at the 2:41 mark in a seesaw second half, but the Eagles wouldn’t hit a field goal again.

Marcus Graves answered with a trey of his own for the Hornets, who ended a nine-game losing streak to EWU.

EWU beat Sacramento State 94-92 in overtime last month in California, one of the Eagles’ two road wins this season.

Despite being hit with three early fouls, EWU forward Jesse Hunt had a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds.

He said he played soft in the second half to avoid fouling out.

“I can’t do that, I have to keep playing the way I play,” Hunt said. “If there’s a bad call, I just need to take it and let the other guys come in.”

EWU led 13-3 seven minutes into a low-scoring first half, but the Hornets chipped away to force a 27-27 tie at halftime.

Sacramento State clogged up the key, forcing EWU to take nearly half of its field goal attempts from behind the arc. Mason Peatling was held to six points in the paint.

Hunt was 3 for 4 from deep, but the rest of the Eagles were a combined 4 of 19.

The Hornets were cold, too, shooting 38 percent from the field.

Graves led Sacramento State with 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

EWU was without the services of high-scoring guard Jacob Davison, who sat the third straight game with an ankle injury.

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