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Eagles edge pesky Geoducks

Kirk Earlywine did his best to convince his Eastern Washington men’s basketball team that Evergreen College was a special kind of NAIA Division II opponent.

But once again, the Eagles failed to get the message.


Kirk Earlywine did his best to convince his Eastern Washington men’s basketball team that Evergreen College was a special kind of NAIA Division II opponent.

But once again, the Eagles failed to get the message.

Instead of rolling to the easy victory most of those in the sparse Monday night crowd at

Reese Court
expected, they were pushed to limit by the Geoducks before digging out a difficult 90-87 win that snapped a three-game losing streak.

Junior forward Brandon Moore put together a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double, and junior point guard Benny Valentine added 16 points for Eastern (7-5). The Eagles used a 40-25 rebounding edge to offset a 36-point scoring outburst by Evergreen’s Nate Menafee and a remarkable 66-percent shooting effort by the Geoducks (7-3), ranked No. 16 nationally among NAIA Division II schools.

“For some reason our guys didn’t believe me when I told them this team was very good, and that Menafee and (Nick) Moore, in particular, are Division I players,” a disgruntled Earlywine said. “Obviously, our guys didn’t listen, and that’s been kind of contagious lately.”

Menafee, a 5-foot-10 junior, came into the game averaging 23.3 points per game and lit up the Eagles, starting with 28 points in the first half. Moore, a 6-7 senior forward, added 19 points, and Steve Trotter, a 6-8 senior, chipped in 17 for the Geoducks, who made 35 of 53 field-goal tries, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range.

It all helped make for a wildly entertaining game that featured 27 lead changes and 10 ties, and kept those hardy few in attendance on edge until the final three seconds when Evergreen’s John Levi III failed to convert on an aggressive drive to the bucket.

 Eastern’s Andy Genao, who finished with 10 points and nine boards, chased down the rebound after the miss and made one of two free throws with under a second remaining to pad the Eagles’ narrow winning margin.

Mark Dunn finished with 13 points for EWU, and Milan Stanojevic added 11.

But it was the first-half play of Menafee, who hit 12 of the 16 shots he took prior to intermission, that provided the most entertainment.

“Man, he was like an itch that you can’t reach,” Brandon Moore said of Menafee, who scored on an assortment of difficult shots, including one soaring drive down the lane in which he switched the ball from his right hand to his left while in the air and scored over a couple of Eastern’s bigs.

“We just couldn’t stop him.”

Actually, the Eagles limited Menafee to just eight second-half points, thanks, mainly, to a better effort from the host of defenders Earlywine threw at him.

“We came out a little flat defensively,” admitted Moore.

The Eagles, who were snowed in in Seattle following Saturday’s 83-50 loss to Washington and rode seven hours in a bus to get home Sunday, spent only a brief time preparing for the Geoducks during Monday afternoon’s shootaround.

But Earlywine refused to use that as an excuse.

“They’re a good team and they’re well coached,” he said of Evergreen. “They did a couple of things that, maybe, we could have schemed better, but whether you have three days to prepare or 30 minutes, it shouldn’t affect your effort, and it shouldn’t affect your ability to listen to the coaches when they tell you something.

“And that seems to be an issue for us right now.”

The Eagles will take a couple days off over before returning to campus Christmas Day to begin preparations for their Monday matchup against Boise State in Boise.



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