LA GRANDE — It’s not often a team shoots close to 60% in a basketball game and suffers defeat.
But that’s just what happened to the Eastern Oregon University men’s basketball team Wednesday night.
The Mountaineers fell short against No. 2-ranked College of Idaho, 89-79, in a Cascade Collegiate Conference home contest despite shooting 57% for the game, mainly due to the Yotes also shooting just a tick under 60%.
"I thought our game plan was pretty good. We tried to be methodical and shot at a high rate," EOU head coach Carlito Labarda Jr. said. "We changed our style of play to being a half court type of team.
"We just gotta be more disciplined."
The main difference Wednesday in a game where both teams were so prolific from the floor came down to the Yotes, who won their 16th straight CCC game, getting off six more shots than EOU and making five of them.
College of Idaho never trailed in the second half, but EOU made several runs at the lead, getting within two or three points on multiple occasions, twice as close as one point and twice tying the score — at 53-53 on Landon Jones’ 3-pointer with 13:27 to play, and at 67-67 with 8:31 to go following a 3-pointer and a basket by Brandon Porter.
But C of I had an answer each time. After Porter tied the score for EOU, Jake Bruner scored twice and Charles Ezlie canned a 3-pointer to make it 74-67 with 6:55 to go. Max McCullough scored for EOU later to make it a one-possession game, but a 3-pointer by Nate Bruneel and a basket by Otto Taylor extended the lead back to 79-71. EOU got no closer than six the rest of the way as Taylor hit a dagger 3-pointer for C of I with 58 seconds to go for the Yotes’ largest lead at 86-75.
"We felt like we had a great chance of winning and we did, we just couldn't finish them off," Labarda said. "That's credit to their coaching staff."
The teams traded the lead 13 times during a back-and-forth first half, one that also saw the game tied on four occasions. Neither team led by more than three points the entire first half until Jalen Galloway hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Yotes ahead 32-28 with 5:01 to play in the half. Andreas Brown pulled the Mountaineers within 38-37 in the final minute of the first half with a field goal, but Taylor scored five points in the final 30 seconds to put the Yotes ahead at the half, 43-37.
Galloway finished with 22 points to lead six Yotes in double figures. McCullough matched Galloway for game-high honors with 22 to lead EOU and was one of four Mounties in double figures. Jarek Schetzle finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Porter added 12 points, and Jones scored 10 points.
EOU (11-12 overall, 5-9 CCC) travel to face Walla Walla Friday and Saturday.