The Eastern Oregon University men’s basketball team is looking to shore up the defensive side of the ball before it heads into Cascade Collegiate Conference play.
The Mountaineers were successful in that endeavor over the weekend, holding down Northwest Indian College’s offensive attack in a pair of contests at Quinn Coliseum, 120-42 Friday and 109-61 Saturday.
“We tried to work on consistency and just playing hard,” head coach Carlito Labarda Jr. said. “We are tweaking a lot of stuff on defense. We did a lot better job in the second half (of Friday's game), only giving up nine points. Our defense has got to get better.”
The second half of Friday night’s win was when EOU clamped down, holding NWIC to just the nine points, and only two points in the final 14:52 as EOU ended the game on a 47-2 run.
“I told the guys they gotta trust their teammates on dribble-drive,” Labarda said. “We did a better job of coming out and closing out all the way, and if they do get beat they gotta trust their teammates that they're going to have help. They got it going defensively.”
NWIC, which hit 50% of its first-half 3-pointers, was limited to just a 1-for-13 effort from deep in the second half and 3-for-32 overall after the break as EOU turned what was already a lopsided affair at the half, 60-33, into a beatdown.
“Other teams are shooting well against us from the 3-point line,” guard Zane Wright said. “In the second half our goal was no 3s, and they only hit one.”
The Mountaineers, who had five players in double figures on Friday, never trailed and were never threatened. Wright, who led all scorers with 26 points, triggered a 19-0 run with a 3-pointer that ended with EOU up 25-3 after Justin Jeske’s layup. NWIC responded with the next 11 points to get within 11 on Samuel Marqueda’s trey but never cut the margin back to single digits. In fact, the lead never fell below 20 after a free-throw by Wright made it 43-23 with 6:10 to play in the first half.
Wright’s scoring effort came on a night that saw him shoot 7-for-11 from 3-point range, while the rest of the team went 5-for-21. Overall, EOU shot 57% (51-for-89) and had a stunning 70-24 advantage in rebounds.
Jarek Schetzle added 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting and had a game-high 13 rebounds, while Jeske had 17 points and 12 boards. Max McCullough (18 points) and Andreas Brown (12) also reached double figures in scoring.
“We have Jarek, (and) night in, night out he’s going to score so people are going to focus on him,” Wright said. “We got a bunch of shooters, and versatile guys in the middle that play.”
Eastern wasn’t as dominant Saturday, leading just 50-36 at the half after allowing NWIC to end on an 11-0 run, but was never threatened as it again held NWIC down from 3-point range in the second half — this time 1-for-8 — to pull away.
A day after using a 19-0 run to break the game open early, Eastern had an 18-point burst — capped by a dunk from Schetzle and a McCullough layup — for a 24-3 lead. EOU’s lead reached as much as 42-16 in the first half on Brandon Porter’s layup.
Eastern broke the game wide open in the second half with a 22-3 run — which Schetzle ended with another dunk — for an 83-50 lead. The margin reached as much as 46 points in the second half.
Schetzle had 28 points and 12 rebounds for EOU. McCullough also had a double-double, finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds, plus adding seven assists. Preston Chandler added 18 points as 10 players scored for EOU, which shot 51%.
Eastern (5-2 overall) is off until Dec. 6 when it hosts Multnomah to begin CCC play.