Eastern Oregon University’s Kyllian Wood tries to get a shot past Midland defenders Wednesday while his teammates watch from the bench. The eighth-ranked Mountaineers were upset in the first round, 77-53, at the College of the Ozarks by the unranked Warriors from Nebraska. Wood finished the game with four points. The EOU squad ended its season with a 28-5 record. Pat Dailey / Tri-Lakes News (Branson, Mo.)
by PAT DAILEY / Tri-Lakes News (Branson, Mo.)
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — As soon as the subject of playing in the morning hours was offered to Zach Anderson as a reason for Eastern Oregon’s sub-par shooting Wednesday, he quickly dismissed the notion.
“I’m not making excuses. We flat out got beat,” Anderson said after the No. 8-seeded Mountaineers were blown out 77-53 by Midland (Neb.) in the first round of the NAIA D-II National Tournament.
It’s the second straight one-and-done trip to the Ozarks for Eastern Oregon.
The Mountaineers (28-5) never quite got started, shooting 28 percent in the first half while falling behind by 12 at the half.
Things actually got worse, as Midland jumped out to as much as a 33-point lead.
Eastern Oregon’s 53 points represent their second-lowest output of the season. The Mountaineers, who had 48 points in a loss to Pacific Lutheran way back in November, finished with 30-percent shooting, including just 4-of-26 shooting from 3-point land.
The game started at 10:45 a.m. CST, or 8:45 locally.
“We knew we were going to be playing an early game last week, so we were getting ourselves up early all week,” center Jason Mumm said.
“I don’t think playing early had an effect on us. We just got beat.”
EOU scorers turn cold
Mumm scored 18 points and Anderson supplied 11 while hitting a trio of 3s.
But they were alone with hot hands.
Guard Trent Roos, averaging a team-high 13.5 points a game, did not score in 26 minutes of playing time. Forward Anthony Brown, averaging 11.4 points, didn’t score until only five minutes remained in the game and finished with two points.
Brown was 1-of-10 from the field and Roos 0-for-3.
“I guarantee you that’s the first time that has happened all season,” Mumm said, referring to Roos and Brown combining for two points. “They played hard, but their shots wouldn’t fall.”
“We relied on them all season,” Anderson added. “In my opinion, they’re our two best players. But their shots didn’t fall.”
Midland (20-12), making its first appearance at the national tourney, came in yielding an average of 68 points a night.
“Our defense was outstanding, maybe our best of the year,” Midland coach Todd Eisner said.
Midland frustrated Mounties
“Eastern Oregon is a talented offensive team. But we frustrated them and forced them to take bad shots and eliminated second chances.”
“Coach told us Eastern Oregon can score at will,” said Midland guard Galen Gullie, who had 21 points. “He emphasized to us that we would have to be the tougher team and grind it out defensively on each possession.”
Eastern Oregon’s ball-handling also wasn’t up to par. The Mountaineers were guilty of 16 turnovers and had just eight assists.
Both Anderson and Mumm felt a domino effect in play in the second half, as Midland continued to add to its lead.
“It’s hard for me to explain why we couldn’t find our groove,” Anderson said.
“We were out of synch. We had some open shots, but didn’t hit them. If we hit those shots, maybe we would have got some momentum and started feeling good. But we never got to that point.”
“We worked hard to try to get back in it,” Mumm said. “It seemed like the harder we worked, the more our shots wouldn’t fall.”