EASTERN COMEBACK FALLS SHORT
ASHLAND This night, the third time was not a charm for the Eastern Oregon men.
Basketball teams hate to play one another three times in a season, because there are no secrets left after three games.
Southern Oregon had beaten Eastern twice this season, but the Mountaineers came in to Ashland for their Cascade Collegiate Conference playoff opener Wednesday full of confidence after averaging 104 points over their final two games both wins of the regular season.
Southern dominated the boards and the free-throw line to pull out a 78-69 win over the Mountaineers. The Raiders threatened to blow out the Mountaineers a couple of times, but they could never totally shake a persistent Eastern club that refused to go away.
The Mountaineers twice cut into double-digit leads and were within two points with under two minutes to play, but Southern got a break on a crucial blocked shot call and hit its free throws down the stretch to win 78-69.
The Eastern men end their wild season at 13-13. The Mountaineers played a record seven conference overtime games, losing five of them.
Mountaineers Trevor Exline and Bryan Rabas both played with sprained ankles.
"I was proud of how the guys gutted it out," said coach Art Furman. "We sure played some exciting ball. In my book, we went out on top. They gave it the best shot they had."
Rebounding and free-throws were two keys. The Raiders outboarded the Mountaineers 42-24 and shot 19-for-26 at the free-throw line, while Eastern shot 7-for-11.
However, Eastern stayed in the game by taking care of the ball. Eastern had five turnovers and came up with nine steals. Southern, meanwhile, had 18 turnovers and three steals. That translated in Eastern taking 21 more shots than Southern.
Eastern did a good job on 6-foot-7 Shea Washington, who lit up the Mountaineers for 40 points in a game earlier this season. Washington scored just 16 Wednesday, though he did have 13 rebounds and four blocks.
Brad Coen picked up the slack for the Raiders, shooting a perfect 5-for-5 on 3-pointers and scoring 17.
Tyree Jones had a huge game for Eastern. He scored 24, hit five 3-pointers (on nine attempts), dished out eight assists and picked up four steals. For good measure, he led the team with six rebounds.
Taking advantage of four straight 3-pointers, Southern built up a lead of 31-23 late in the first half, but Eastern ended the half on a 10-4 run to go into the break down just 35-33.
With Coen going unconscious from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half, Southern stretched its lead to 49-39, but Jones brought the Mountaineers back. Jones scored 10 straight points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, to bring Eastern back to within three points at 52-49.
Southern surged ahead by 10 a second time, at 66-56 with 7:35 left, but Jones again led the way, dishing out two assists and scoring on a fast break to cut the score to 66-62.
After a Jones 3-pointer with 1:35 left, Eastern was down 70-68. Down 72-68 with just over a minute left, Jones drove to the rim, but his shot was blocked by Travis Elam. Furman was convinced that this was a goaltending, but the call didn't go Eastern's way. Instead of a 72-70 score, Southern got the ball and a foul, hitting two free throws to make it 74-68. It was a huge momentum swing, and Eastern couldn't recover, scoring just one point in the final minute. Pierre LaBossire
So. Oregon 78, E. Oregon 69
Eastern Oregon (69)
Larry Smith 7-15 2-4 17, Trevor Exline 2-10 2-3 6, Tony Luper 3-4 0-0 6, Tyree Jones 9-24 1-2 24, Jason Crawley 2-3 0-0 4, Jacoby Fox 0-2 0-0 0, Damian Browne 0-1 0-0 0, Bryan Rabas 2-3 2-2 8, Konrad Bomberger 2-4 0-0- 4. Totals: 27-66 7-11 69.
Southern Oregon (78)
Brad Coen 6-6 0-0 17, Peter Nelson 4-11 2-2 12, Jin Voeks 0-0 0-0 0, Shea Washington 5-11 5-7 16, Jared Abell 2-7 3-6 7, Steve Farley 1-1 8-9 11, Travis Elam 7-8 1-2 15, Ryan Gabel 0-1 0-0 0, Nick Borrevik 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-45 19-26 78.
Halftime score SOU 78, EOU 69. Three-pointers EOU 8-19 (Smith 1-6, Jones 5-9, Rabas 2-3); SOU 9-16 (Coen 5-5, Nelson 2-7, Washington 1-1, Farley 1-1, Abell 0-1). Fouled out none. Total fouls EOU 20, SOU 12. Technical fouls none. Turnovers EOU 5, SOU 17. Rebounds EOU 24 (Jones 6), SOU 42 (washington 13). Assists EOU 17 (Jones 8); SOU 21 (Voeks 6, Washington 6).