Scoring drought dooms Eagles


Jeremy Burnham

EWU’s Elijah Jackson (22) and Mason Peatling (14) wait on defense during Idaho’s 34-7 run late in first half on Jan. 3. The Eagles’ second-half comeback fell short as Idaho won 74-71.

By Jeremy Burnham, Managing Editor

The EWU men’s basketball team started and finished strong against the University of Idaho on Thursday. The middle, however, was a disaster, with the Vandals going on a 34-7 run at the end of the first half to aid a 74-71 win.

The Eagles (3-11, 1-2) jumped out to a 16-9 lead to start off the game over the Vandals (4-10, 1-2), but with 12:27 remaining in the half, Idaho forward Chance Garvin started the 27 point run with a 3-pointer, ending the half with Idaho up 43-23.

EWU closed the first half with no players scoring in double digits. Ty Gibson and Cody Benzel each finished the half with six points.

“They are well coached,” EWU head coach Shantay Legans said of Idaho. “We started the game pretty good. Then they went on a run and we couldn’t score.”

The Eagles came out strong in the second half, closing the gap to 12, but then traded baskets with the Vandals for much of the half.

With about 4 minutes left, EWU exploded. Jesse Hunt and Tyler Kidd made key 3-pointers as EWU pulled within three. The Eagles then forced the Vandals into a shot clock violation with 14 seconds remaining, setting up Mason Peatling for a 3-point shot which bounced in and out. The ball went out of bounds off of an Idaho player on the baseline. However, the Eagles turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, and Idaho held on to win.

“We just came out and played hard [in the second half],” Legans said.

Scoring droughts have been a problem in league play for the Eagles. Against Weber State on Dec. 29, EWU opened the second half allowing Weber to go on a 20-3 run over eight minutes. On Dec. 31, EWU did not score in the opening five minutes of the game against Idaho State.

“I have to put our guys in better position to score,” Legans said of the droughts. “We have to figure out how to get to the line. We have to figure out a lot of stuff, how to get our guys to make plays.”

Peatling finished with 17 points for the Eagles while Hunt added 14. Trevon Allen had 25 for the Vandals.

Legans said the team may have underestimated an Idaho team that lost to Idaho State.

“That first half, I’m not sure if we rested on our laurels of winning that game at home against Idaho State, and saw that Idaho State beat Idaho,” Legans said. “I don’t know, but we have to make sure we come in and be prepared.”

Next, the Eagles play at Northern Colorado University on Jan. 7, before returning to Cheney to host Big Sky leader University of Montana on Jan. 10.