LA GRANDE — The Mountaineers took care of business in their final non-conference game of the regular season.
The Eastern Oregon University men’s basketball team defeated Linfield 82-64 at home on Tuesday, Dec. 21, improving to 7-6 on the year. A big second half and a strong showing from Eastern’s guards pushed the Mountaineers to victory.
Junior Zane Wright was one point away from tying a career high, tallying 25 points off 9-16 shooting from the field and 7-11 shooting from three-point range. Wright added three rebounds and was a spark on offense across his 30 minutes of playing time.
Junior Phillip Malatare led the way alongside Wright, putting up 24 points, six assists, five rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Malatare shot 10-20 from the field. Sophomore Xavier Lovelace led the team with 13 rebounds.
The first half went back and forth, with neither team taking a commanding lead. Linfield led by seven points midway through, but Eastern clawed back to trail 37-36 at halftime.
The game was knotted at 63-63 with just over five minutes left in the game, but the Mountaineers went on a huge run to end the game.
After the Wildcats went up 64-63, The Mountaineers scored 19 unanswered to run off with a double-digit victory. Wright hit three of his three-pointers in the final five minutes and led the way for a strong finish.
The win improved Eastern’s record to 7-6 on the year and 3-1 in home games this season. The Mountaineers concluded non-conference play with a 6-2 mark.
Malatare is now averaging 19 points per game, shooting 50% from the field. Lovelace is grabbing 8.7 rebounds per contest.
Up next, Eastern will play in its final game of 2021 in Salem against Corban at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, the Mountaineers will face Bushnell in Eugene at 5 p.m.