McCullough

Eastern Oregon University's Max McCullough puts up an off-balance shot Friday during the first half against Northwest Christian.

LA GRANDE — The Eastern Oregon University men’s basketball team split its first homestand of the new decade Friday and Saturday, rebounding from a 109-99 loss Friday to Northwest Christian  to earn a 93-78 win Saturday over Corban in a pair of Cascade Collegiate Conference games at Quinn Coliseum.

EOU was done in Friday by struggles on the defensive end, as the Beacons shot 53% for the game and 56% in the second half. Eastern head coach Carlito Labarda Jr. said the team was giving up too many drives to the rim.

"We just couldn't contain them, and we couldn't contain the dribble, plain and simple," he said. "They took us to the rim, they manhandled us going to the rim, and they did a great job."

EOU, which trailed 49-45 at the half, used a 10-0 run over the span of about two minutes to take a 62-57 lead — its largest of the second half — on a field goal by Landon Jones and a 3-point play by Jarek Schetzle.

NCU eventually took the lead for good, 74-72, on a Malik Corey field goal with 12 minutes to play.

Jones, who had 21 of his team-high 28 points in the second half for EOU, almost single-handedly kept the Mountaineers in the game for a large stretch of the second half. 

"I just knew we needed somebody to try and keep us in it. We got a few stops in a row, (and) I thought we had the momentum. I was kind of in attack mode thinking they hadn't stopped me for a few possessions, so I was going to keep going," he said. 

Jones scored 13 straight EOU points, the last of which was a field goal with 9:32 to play to pull Eastern within a point at 81-80, and a basket by Max McCullough with 4:03 to play kept EOU within striking distance at 94-90.

But then the Beacons put the game away. Former Baker High School standout Kaden Sand had an uncontested dunk for a six-point lead, and his brother, Logan Sand, followed with a pair of corner 3-pointers for a 102-90 advantage with less than two minutes to go.

A Josh Brown layup and a Jamal Heckard 3-pointer helped EOU get within 105-99 in the final minute, but Eastern didn’t score again.

"Coach was preaching all week defense and rebounding, and it's hard to win when they get so many layups uncontested," Jones said.

Jones added 14 rebounds for the Mountaineers, who shot 45% on the night but were just 7-for-20 from 3-point range, 3-of-11 in the second half. Schetzle added 18 points while battling foul trouble most of the night. Heckard (14 points), McCullough (13) and Zane Wright (10) were also in double figures for EOU.

Ernest Ugoagu had 33 points to lead the Beacons. Logan Sand and Kaden Sand had 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Eastern ended its three-game losing streak with an important 93-78 win Saturday night over Corban, shaking off a nine-point second-half deficit with an 11-0 run, and later using an 11-3 run to take the lead for good.

Corban took a 53-44 lead with 15:28 to play on a Beau Roggenbach field goal, but the Mountaineers responded with the next 11 points to go ahead 55-53 on a McCullough 3-pointer.The teams battled to a 62-62 tie before the Mountaineers took control. McCullough had five points during the key run, which ended with Eastern ahead 73-65, then had consecutive field goals to give the Mountaineers their first double-digit lead of the game at 84-73 with 3:15 to go.

McCullough finished with a game-high 29 points and shot 67% for the game a night after shooting just 25%. Jones added 21 points, Heckard had 16, and both Schetzle and Brown scored 10 points. Schetzle also had 11 rebounds, and Heckard has six assists and four steals.

EOU (8-7 overall, 2-4 CCC) travels to face Evergreen State College Friday.

East Region Sports Editor

Ronald's primary beats are Eastern Oregon University, La Grande High School and the other eight high schools of Union and Wallowa counties. As an avid sports fan, he is primarily reading about or watching sports when he isn't covering a game.

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