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EOU’s J.D. Esters drives to the basket during the alumni basketball game Saturday in Quinn Coliseum. The varsity won, 98-78. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
Newest Mountaineers grab rollercoaster win over previous players in team’s home opener
Consistency is what Eastern Oregon University basketball coach Isaac Williams wants to see from his varsity now.
That was one thing that stood out for the Mountaineers’ coach after watching his team defeat his former players by a 98-78 margin.
In the annual alumni game, the earlier versions of the Mountaineers kept coming back to threaten the youngsters.
They had fallen behind early, but slowly the alumni kept creeping back in the first half until the score was 44-39 at the break.
In the first few minutes of the second half, the older Mounties tied the score at 44-all, but a quick pair of turnovers and a fastbreak gave the new varsity a six-point cushion they worked to expand on.
Trent Roos led all scorers with 31 points, including hitting four of his 13 three-point shots. He also had three assists, five rebounds and a pair of steals.
But Williams also got a chance to unviel his biggest weapon — literally.
Kalvin Johnason hit six of his seven shots, including one dunk and a put-back shot that bounced off the rim before he slammed it into the basket.
The 6-foot, 10-inch redshirt freshman from Pullman scored 14 points and also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds and finished with one blocked shot in 22 minutes on the floor.
J.D. Esters also had 14 points, along with 10 assists, four steals and seven rebounds.
Anthony Brown finished with nine points and six assists, while Michael Crane added eight. Crane also finished with five rebounds.
Killian Wood added six points and six rebounds, while both Craig Tucker and Tony Eackles each finished with five points.
John Buhler added three points and Jason Mumm put in two to complete the varsity scoring attack.
The alumni scoring was more balanced, with five players scoring in double figures.
The alumni was led by Josh Landsverk’s 17 points. Both Jebron Jones and Jeremy Templeton added 14 points, while Paul Carollo put in 11. Jeremy Rosenbaum finished with 10 points.
It was the alumni success from outside the arc that kept the team chaffing on the heels of the varsity throughout the game.
The alumni hit 11 of their 26 three-point tries, while the varsity hit just seven of their 28 attempts.
The long-distance aerial assault was led by Templeton, who hit four of his five attempts for 12 of his total points.
Rosenbaum hit two of his three three-point attempts, while Thomas McCarthy hit two three-pointers on his way to finish with a total of seven points.
Seth Pennigton finished the game with five points and four rebounds.
The varsity finished the game with the edge in rebounding — 58-35.
The varsity also had more steals and assists as they built a big statistical edge.
That statistical edge didn’t keep the alumni from hitting three 3s late in the second half to make the game close again.
The varsity was able to block the rally with one of their own to pull away for the final scoring advantage. The varsity outscored the alumni by a 54-39 margin in the second half.
“We need to be more consistent,” Williams said after the game. “We have to work on it.”
The varsity will have less than a week to get ready for its next opponent, when Multnomah University comes to La Grande for a pair of games in Quinn Coliseum Friday (4 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m.).