The Eagles did it again.
Rallying after halftime for the second-straight game, Eastern Washington University roared past Idaho State 83-70 in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Saturday (Jan. 29) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The win vaulted Eastern into a fifth-place tie with PSU as both are now 4-5 in the league, percentage points ahead of Northern Arizona at 3-4. Eastern is now 7-14 overall while the Bengals are 6-15 overall and 2-7 in the conference. Eastern has its first two-game winning streak of the season and has now won three of its last four.
"There is still a lot of basketball to be played, but with each win you play yourself into a little bit better situation," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "We held serve at home, now we have a challenge ahead of us. We have to prove to ourselves, our fans and our league that we can go on the road and win."
Eastern trailed 33-30 at halftime, but made 9-of-12 three-pointers in the second half to out-score the Bengals 53-37 after intermission. The Eagles used a 14-4 run early in the second half -- including four treys -- to break-open the game.
Six Eagles scored in double figures, led by the 17 points, four assists and no turnovers by sophomore point guard Glen Dean. Sophomore guard Kevin Winford scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, and led the barrage of three-pointers with four in the second half.
Eastern finished 13-of-24 from three-point range for 54 percent, slightly better than the team's 52.8 percent shooting night overall that was the second-best of the season and the best against a NCAA Division I opponent. Eastern made 75 percent of its shots in the second half after making only 33 percent in the first half.
"We didn't shoot it well in the first half -- we missed some good looks," said Earlywine. "Idaho State was playing their third game in five days, so I think in the second half there was a little bit of fatigue. When you get a good look you have to make them -- in the first half we didn't but in the second half we did. When you go 13-of-24 from the arc you probably should win."
Two nights earlier in a 65-51 victory over Portland State, the Eagles made only 29 percent in the first half to fall behind 26-22 at intermission, but exploded for 60 percent shooting in the second half to out-score the Vikings 43-25 and cruise to the huge 14-point win.
Also scoring in double figures for the Eagles against ISU was junior forward Cliff Ederaine, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds, and made a three-pointer in the second half on his first attempt of the year. A 37.6 percent free throw shooter entering the game, he also made both of his free throws.
Sophomore guard Jeffrey Forbes scored 15 points with a trio of three-pointers and 4-of-4 free throw shooting. Senior forward Laron Griffin added 11 points, three rebounds and a pair of blocks, and guard Cliff Colimon scored 10 with four assists.
Junior forward Tremayne Johnson only scored three points, but he had eight rebounds, a career-high four assists and a blocked shot.
Eastern now plays a pair of road games, starting Thursday (Feb. 3) at 7-1 Northern Colorado, then have a rematch in Pocatello versus ISU. While the Eagles are 0-11 on the road this season with a 17-game road losing streak dating back to last year, the Eagles have won seven of eight games at Reese Court. The Eagles play four of their final eight league games at home. Plus, Eastern will host a yet to be announced opponent on either Feb. 18 or 19 in the ESPN BracketBusters.
"We're not going to back away from it and we're not going to shy away from it," said Earlywine of playing at Northern Colorado, a 75-73 winner over the Eagles in Cheney on Dec. 31. "I feel pretty confident our guys will take that challenge and we'll go play hard in Greeley on Thursday."
There four lead changes and a pair of ties in the first half before Idaho State used five-straight points to take an 18-13 advantage. The Bengals gained a 10-point lead before settling for a three-point halftime advantage at 33-30. Seven-foot Deividas Busma had 13 points and five rebounds in the first half as ISU had eight offensive rebounds that led to nine second-chance points.
Eastern's 14-4 run early in the second half featured a trio of treys by Winford, one by Dean and a jumper to start it off by Griffin. The Eagles took their biggest lead of the night at 15 points at the 4:26 mark. Idaho State came no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Busma scored only six points and had no rebounds in the second half. However, Kenny McGowen kept the Bengals in the game with a career-high 24 points, 17 after intermission.