EOU LOSING STREAK HITS 10 GAMES

January 23, 2002 12:00 am
UP GOES THE BALL: Eastern Oregon's Jeremy McLean (10) tries to score from underneath the basket during Tuesday's game. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
UP GOES THE BALL: Eastern Oregon's Jeremy McLean (10) tries to score from underneath the basket during Tuesday's game. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

Albertson assistant coach Garry Matlock walked in front of the scorers table and breathed a sigh of relief.

That was a great block, Matlock said after Eastern Oregons Jonathan Stoddard was called for a foul against Albertsons Neal Robertson late in Tuesdays mens basketball game at Quinn Coliseum.

Blocked shot or foul, Robertson made one of the two free throws, a critical point that gave the Coyotes a 71-67 victory in the Cascade Collegiate Conference game.

The play was one of three in the final 41 seconds that boosted the Mountaineers losing streak to 10 games. An untimely turnover, the phantom foul and an errant scoreboard all contributed to Easterns collapse.

Still, it was the closest the Mountaineers have gotten to breaking the streak. In the nine previous games, Eastern (4-14 overall, 1-10 conference) had lost by an average 25.8 points, with no game closer than 11 points.

Albertson (17-8, 7-4) was missing All-American Ty Shaw (knee) and Tennison Tripple (ankle) to injuries, and the Coyotes had all they could handle. The game was tied 12 times with 27 lead changes.

Our guys, with not a whole lot of confidence as far as wins, took them down to the wire, Eastern coach Art Furman said.

Easterns last lead, 67-66, came at 1:13 after Trevor Exline sank a pair of free throws. Albertsons Kris Cox then came down and put a layup in off the glass for the final lead change.

On Easterns next possession, Kevin Hayes and Jeremy McLean tripped up while passing the ball, which went out of bounds. The Coyotes drove the clock down to 10 seconds before Robertson went in for the layup. Stoddard appeared to smack all ball, but was called for the foul.

Coxs free throw gave Albertson a 69-67 lead, but when Easterns Jerome Toby took the ball down the court, he saw 70-67 on the scoreboard. He threw up a wild 3-point attempt that airballed out of bounds with 1.3 seconds to play.

Furman tried to convince the referees that the scoreboard changed the play, but it didnt work.

We were going to take it to the basket, and Jerome would shoot or kick it out, Furman said. He felt terrible.

While the Mountaineers avoided the scoring funk that has plagued them during their losing streak, the defense gave up too many easy baskets in the second half. Albertson often had open lanes to the hoop for layups.

Defensively we didnt get it done, Furman said. In the first half we made them work for everything. We should be getting to the point now where were executing for longer periods of time.

Another factor was Albertsons defense, especially late in the game. The Coyotes switched to a four-guard lineup that pressed in the backcourt, forcing a couple of turnovers.

Mike Homik had 21 points for Albertson before fouling out; he had seven of those points while playing with four fouls.

Kevin Hayes came off the bench to lead Eastern with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Trevor Exline returned from an ear infection that kept him out two games and scored 11. Neil Collins had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Eastern has two chances this week to break its streak at home. The Mountaineers host Northwest Friday and Evergreen State Saturday.

ALBERTSON (71)

Robertson 5-14 5-6 16, Webb 5-12 1-2 14, Cox 4-10 0-0 9, Hare 2-6 0-0 4, Homik 7-12 7-9 21, Thomas 1-4 0-0 3, Rasmussen 1-3 0-0 3, McCarthy 0-2 1-2 1. Totals: 25-63 14-19 71.

EASTERN OREGON (67)

McLean 0-3 2-2 2, Cauffman 3-7 0-0 7, Toby 3-6 0-0 7, N.Collins 4-7 1-2 10, Williams, Hayes 6-10 2-2 17, S.Collins 0-5 0-0 0, Exline 3-8 5-6 11, Stoddard 3-3 0-0 6, Miller 1-4 5-6 7, Hall 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-54 15-18 67.

Halftime score Eastern Oregon 30, Albertson 30. Three-pointers Albertson 7-21 (Robertson 1-5, Webb 3-6, Cox 1-3, Thomas 1-4, Rasmussen 1-3), Eastern Oregon 6-17 (Cauffman 1-4, Toby 1-2, N.Collins 1-4, Hayes 3-4, S.Collins 0-3). Fouled out Homik. Total fouls Albertson 17, Eastern Oregon 19. Technical fouls None. Turnovers Albertson 6, Eastern Oregon 15. Rebounds Albertson 35 (Hare 7, Homik 7), Eastern Oregon 38 (McLean 9, N.Collins 9). Assists Albertson 13 (Cox 6), Eastern Oregon 19 (McLean 7).