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EASTERN MEN RALLY PAST WHITMAN

KEEPAWAY: Eastern Oregon's Trevor Exline tries to keep the ball from Whitman defenders mark Bouma (left) and Rich Harris (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
KEEPAWAY: Eastern Oregon's Trevor Exline tries to keep the ball from Whitman defenders mark Bouma (left) and Rich Harris (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

After coming back from a 16-point second-half deficit, Eastern Oregon almost lost Tuesdays mens basketball game against Whitman because of a missed free throw.

Trevor Exline missed the free throw with 11 seconds left, then contributed to the defense that forced the turnover that guaranteed Eastern its second win of the young season, 70-68 over the Missionaries.

I missed it and just put it out of my mind and went on to the next thing, said Exline, who made most of his other shots Tuesday night en route to a game-high 22 points. Exline was 9-for-12 from the field and made his other three free throws.

Until about 11 minutes remained in the second half, Whitman (1-2) had made most of its shots. The Missionaries were hitting field goals at a 62 percent clip through that point. Their biggest lead was 52-36 with 15:17 to play and they led 59-48 at 11:59 the point things went sour for them.

In the last 11 minutes of the game, Whitman made 3-of-11 field goals. Credit Eastern Oregons backcourt trap on defense.

That trap got us back into the game, Eastern Oregon coach Art Furman said.

Eastern (2-0) also started shooting better, getting 3-pointers from Kevin Hayes and Luke Neibling that helped cut Whitmans lead to 62-58 with seven minutes left.

After Neiblings trey, Jerome Toby and Jeremy McLean forced a five-second violation on Whitmans Rich Harris. McLean followed with a baseline drive to the basket for two more points. Toby and McLean then forced a 10-second backcourt violation, and Exlines jumper over his defender tied the game.

Eastern took the lead for good, 67-66, on a 3-pointer from Scott Collins off a Toby assist with 4:24 to play.

Whitman almost turned it around. Rob Bells offensive rebound and basket cut Easterns lead to 69-68 with 2:13 to play. Eastern ran the clock down twice in the last 1:28, thanks to an offensive rebound by Kevin Hayes, but both shots were off.

The Missionaries had plenty of time for a game-winning basket, but Ben Fuller was called for an offensive charge against McLean with 11 seconds to play.

Whitman had one last chance with 2 seconds left, but Fuller threw the ball through the hands of two teammates and out of bounds.

Hayes got 10 points off the bench for Eastern, and Toby had 10 assists despite not playing for 16 minutes of the first half because of foul trouble.

Every game we seem to be getting better, Exline said. Weve just got to work on coming out more pumped up.

We lacked some enthusiasm out there early in the game that weve got to get going, Furman said.

The Mountaineers stay at home this weekend for their annual Quinn Classic tournament. Eastern plays Golden State Baptist (Calif.) at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Carroll (Mont.) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Trinity Western (B.C.) plays Golden State at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Carroll at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

WHITMAN (68)

Harris 2-6 0-0 5, Erickson 5-6 0-0 13, Fuller 4-7 2-2 11, Bouma 2-3 4-4 8, Bell 7-13 3-4 17, Erlebach 3-6 1-2 8, Justice 3-6 0-2 6, Parker 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 26-48 10-14 68.

EASTERN OREGON (70)

McLean 2-4 0-0 4, Toby 1-2 0-0 2, Exline 9-12 3-4 22, Neibling 3-8 0-0 8, Stoddard 4-6 1-1 9, Hayes 4-5 0-0 10, S.Collins 2-7 0-0 5, Cauffman 1-4 0-0 3, Tankersley 0-2 2-2 2, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 1-6 3-4 5. Totals: 27-57 9-11 70.

Halftime score Whitman 40, Eastern Oregon 33. Three-pointers Whitman 6-12 (Harris 1-3, Erickson 3-4, Fuller 1-2, Bouma 0-1, Erlebach 1-2), Eastern Oregon 7-18 (McLean 0-2, Toby 0-1, Exline 1-1, Neibling 2-5, Hayes 2-3, S.Collins 1-3, Cauffman 1-3). Fouled out None. Total fouls Whitman 15, Eastern Oregon 15. Technical fouls None. Turnovers Whitman 14, Eastern Oregon 15. Rebounds Whitman 23 (Fuller 7), Eastern Oregon 29 (Exline 11). Assists Whitman 17 (Erickson 5), Eastern Oregon 18 (Toby 10).

 
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