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STOP AND POP: Eastern Oregon leading scorer Tyree Jones led the Mountaineers with 10 assists against Evergreen State, but pulled a muscle and had to go out of the game. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).
STOP AND POP: Eastern Oregon leading scorer Tyree Jones led the Mountaineers with 10 assists against Evergreen State, but pulled a muscle and had to go out of the game. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).

By Pierre LaBossire

Observer Staff Writer

After giving up 10 3-pointers in one half, the Eastern Oregon men buckled down on defense in the second half, and more importantly, found a way to win with their injured point guard out of the game.

The bloodied and sore Mountaineers beat long-bombing Evergreen State 81-75 Wednesday night after being down by 10 points at halftime.

The Mountaineer men are hoping it won't be a Pyrrhic victory as Tyree Jones, their leading scorer coming into the game, went down with a pulled muscle. His status for Saturday's game against Northwest is uncertain.

Eastern forward Tony Luper also got knocked out of the game for several minutes when he was smacked in the head, opening up an ugly gash in his scalp.

Luper said the Mountaineers knew they would all have to step up with Jones out.

"This was a tribute to our depth," he said. "We're as deep as any team in the conference. With Ty out this was a gut-check game. We didn't skip a beat."

Eastern coach Art Furman said this game was a "special win" for the Mountaineers on several fronts.

First, it's a Cascade Collegiate Conference-opening win (Eastern is 5-2 overall). Secondly, the men discovered they can take care of the ball and score without Jones if they have to.

Third, the Mountaineers bounced back after a sluggish first half and weathered the storm from the Geoduck's blistering 10-for-18 shooting in the first half from beyond the 3-point line.

"It wasn't pretty, but I've been around a lot of lovely losses. I'll take this any day of the week," said Furman.

Furman also thought the Eastern bench did a great job, especially Brock Canady, Konrad Bomberger and Bryan Rabas. This trio contributed 29 points and 16 rebounds.

Rabas ended up with 15 points and did a lot of his damage late in the second half filling in for Jones.

Eastern shut down the long bombs in the second, running out at the Evergreen shooters and forcing the Geoducks into 3-for-19 shooting in the final 20 minutes from 3-point range. Evergreen ended up taking a whopping 37 3-pointers.

Eastern, now winners of four straight, takes on Northwest at 7:30 p.m.

Eastern Oregon 81, Evergreen State 75

Evergreen State (75)

Karriem Fielding 2-9, 2-2 7, Walter Tucker 1-8 0-0 2, Chris Ferguson 1-5 0-0 3, Josh Peterson 7-14 1-2 19, Julius Marshall 6-12 1-3 14, Ben Riipi 3-5 0-0 8, Tygann Billow 4-12 2-2 14, Adam Laneer 2-6 2-2 6, Nate Robinson 1-2 0-1 2, Zach Haley 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 27-75 8-12 75.

Eastern Oregon (81)

Trevor Exline 5-9 2-3 12, Larry Smith 2-11 5-7, Tony Luper 6-8 4-6 16, Tyree Jones 1-8 1-2 4, Jason Crawley 3-7 4-5 10, Reagan Gilbertson 0-0 0-0 0, Bryan Rabas 5-12 2-2 15, Brock Canady 2-4 1-2 5, Konrad Bomberger 4-5 1-2 9. Totals: 28-64 20-29 81.

Halftime score — TESC 41, EOU 31. Three-pointers — TESC 13-37 (Fielding 1-4, Tucker 0-3, Ferguson 1-3, Peterson 4-10, Marshall 1-3, Riipi 2-4, Billow 4-7, Robinson 0-1, Haley 0-2). EOU — 5-19 (Smith 1-5, Jones 1-4, Rabas 3-8, Crawley 0-1, Canady 0-1). Fouled out — Peterson. Technical fouls — EOU bench. Turnovers — TESC 7, EOU 9. Rebounds — TESC 40 (Fielding 7, Tucker 7), EOU 50 (Exline 12). Assists — TESC 18 (Fielding 3, Billow 3, Laneer 3), EOU 18 (Jones 10).

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