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EOUís Anthony Brown goes up for a lay-in with a New Hope Christian defender bearing down on him Saturday night at Quinn Coliseum. CASEY KELLAS - The Observer
The No. 9 Eastern Oregon University men’s basketball team used a hot shooting touch to defeat New Hope Christian for the second night in a row Saturday, 93-82. The Mountaineers defeated the Deacons 93-80 Friday night.
“We played with a lot of energy,” head coach Isaac Williams said after Saturday’s victory. “We didn’t always play with the right focus or execution, especially on defense. There were stretches where we were very good defensively. But we were good on offense, other than the turnovers. I think for this time of year, we’re in a pretty good place.”
In the first half it looked like the Mountaineers were in a good place no matter where they were on the floor.
Eastern Oregon shot a blistering 69 percent from the field in the first half, including going 10 of 14 from three-point range. Anthony Brown hit five three pointers in the first half on his way to finishing with a game-high 25 points for EOU. Trent Roos added 21 points.
The game was tight for the majority of the first half before the Mountaineers used an 11-2 run to open up a 30-21 lead. EOU eventually was able to stretch it to a 19-point lead at 53-34, but a 10-2 Deacon run to close the half made it a 55-44 Eastern lead at halftime.
The Mounties continued to shoot the ball well to start the second half, and EOU stretched the lead to 24 points at 87-63 with 9:01 remaining.
Eastern Oregon maintained a healthy lead until the Deacons made a push with a couple minutes left, getting within 15 points and the eventual losing margin of 11.
The Mountaineers finished the game shooting 55 percent (37-67) from the field and hit 14 three pointers.
“These guys share the ball. There are a lot of guys who can shoot, so that obviously helps” Williams said. “We just have to limit the turnovers. The more we get to shoot — it seems simple to say — but if we can get a shot off everytime, I like our chances.”
Williams was also pleased with the inside-out game the Mountaineers showed on offense, as EOU finished with 44 points in the paint.
“We knew that one of our problems (Friday) was that we were playing all on the perimeter, and we never broke down their defense. So we wanted to be able to prove that we could score in the paint, so that when we got in there we would be able to kick out and make shots. So that’s why you saw the balance between the three-point line and the paint,” the coach said.
Tony Eackles finished with 19 points and seven rebounds for the Mountaineers, while Jason Mumm scored 14 points to go along with seven boards. J.D. Esters dished out 11 assists for the game.
Tarance Glyn led New Hope Christian with 20 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Harley Turner added 14.
“Our guys were ready to play, they were prepared and had the right energy,” Williams said. “But that two night in a row is definitely tough.”
And while Williams likes where his team is at after four games, he knows there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We would really like to get better on defense, so we’ve spent a lot of time this year working defensively,” he said.
“For stretches it’s been really good, but we just have long lapses — two, three-minute lapses at a time — where we’re just not very good. But like I said, we’ve already played four games and it’s not even November yet. Normally we wouldn’t even have played any games yet.”
And with a solid core of players back after last season, along with several new faces, Williams is pleased with the chemistry his team has shown thus far.
“This group of people, we have great kids, and as soon as we got together everybody meshed really well. That part of it, the chemistry and the bond between our guys, couldn’t possibly be better,” he said.
Eastern will travel to Walla Walla University Friday. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. Live stats and video will be available at EOUsports.com.