CLOSE, NO CIGAR
By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
Eastern Oregon mens basketball fans came away disappointed Saturday, not because the Mountaineers lost by 30, which was expected, but because they lost by just three, which was a surprise.
Call Evergreen State, the NAIAs ninth-ranked team, the Geoduck that got away.
Eastern had its best shooting performance of the season only to watch the Cascade Collegiate Conference leaders hang on for a 93-90 victory.
We havent been in that situation against a team like that, Eastern coach Art Furman said. You get greedy after you win one game and you want another one.
Eastern had broken a 10-game losing streak the night before by beating Northwest, but Evergreen State came in expecting to win in a blowout. Thats what they did Dec. 28, when they won 105-72.
You can say a lot of things, but we just lost a game to a better basketball team, Furman said.
Eastern (5-15 overall, 2-11 conference) set season-bests in points, field goal shooting (62 percent), 3-point shooting (58 percent) and assists (24).
The 20 turnovers, however, were the most glaring statistic of the night. Evergreen State (18-5, 12-1) took advantage of many of those turnovers in a 14-0 run that stretched over four minutes in the second half.
Furman said his players didnt follow through in their zone press offense when Evergreen State put on its backcourt press.
Ill betcha we had three or four three-on-one opportunities and didnt convert, he said.
With 7:15 left, Eastern led 76-72 after a pair of free throws from Trevor Exline, and shortly thereafter the Mountaineers got just their first foul of the second half.
They would get 11 more, most in the waning minutes when they had to foul to get the ball back. That tactic almost worked, except that Evergreens Andre Stewart made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 55 seconds.
Eastern trailed 86-76 with 2:59 left, but Exline hit a pair of jumpers, Kevin Hayes made a 3-pointer and Neil Collins scored off an offensive rebound to cut the lead to five, 90-85, with 15 seconds to play.
After Stewart missed a free throw with 12 seconds left, Exline hit a long 3-pointer and Eastern trailed by three. Stewart made two more free throws to ice the win.
Evergreen State started the game by making its first six shots. Eastern shot well to stay in the game but caught on fire late in the first half behind a burst of 3-pointers.
For the first half, Eastern shot 69 percent (18-for-26) from the field and 71 percent (10-for-14) from 3-point range. Nate Cauffman had four of those 3-pointers and led the Mountaineers with 13 points at halftime.
He finished with 16 points, while Exline scored 17. Brad Williams and Jonathan Stoddard each scored 10 points. Jerome Toby tied his season-high with 10 assists.
Stewart scored 23 for Evergreen State, with Greg Johnson adding 22. The Geoducks shot 55 percent from the field.
EVERGREEN STATE (93)
Parker 6-11 0-0 16, Stewart 7-15 8-9 23, Johnson 9-14 0-1 22, McGill 6-10 2-2 14, Koeltzow 2-3 0-0 5, Jones 3-3 2-3 9, Robinson 1-6 2-2 4. Totals: 34-62 14-17 93.
EASTERN OREGON (90)
McLean 2-4 0-0 6, Cauffman 5-11 2-4 16, Toby 3-4 0-0 8, N.Collins 3-6 0-0 7, Williams 5-9 0-0 10, Hayes 2-3 2-2 8, S.Collins 1-2 0-0 3, Exline 7-8 2-2 17, Neibling 1-2 0-0 3, Stoddard 4-5 2-2 10, Miller 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 34-55 8-10 90.
Halftime score Eastern Oregon 49, Evergreen State 46. Three-pointers Evergreen State 11-26 (Parker 4-7, Stewart 1-4, Johnson 4-8, McGill 0-2, Koeltzow 1-2, Jones 1-1, Robinson 0-2), Eastern Oregon 14-24 (McLean 2-4, Cauffman 4-7, Toby 2-2, N.Collins 1-3, Hayes 2-3, S.Collins 1-2, Exline 1-1, Neibling 1-2). Fouled out None. Total fouls Evergreen State 11, Eastern Oregon 17. Technical fouls Evergreen State coach Barbee, Stewart. Turnovers Evergreen State 7, Eastern Oregon 20. Rebounds Evergreen State 18 (Koeltzow 5), Eastern Oregon 33 (N.Collins 7). Assists Evergreen State 29 (Parker 8), Eastern Oregon 24 (Toby 10).