Portland State put an end to Eastern Washington's Big Sky Tournament hopes and season Saturday night by posting a 66-62 overtime win over the Eaglesa at Reese Court.
You can read an unedited version of the game story that will appear in Sunday's S-R below.
But only for five minutes.
And if was during those extra five minutes that Portland State, still with a chance to land the No. 2 seed in next week’s Big Sky Conference Tournament, showed an enthusiastic and pro-Eastern crowd of 1,969 why it remains among the league’s elite programs by slapping a 66-62 overtime loss on the Eagles.
The win by Portland State (21-9 overall, 9-11 in the Big Sky) eliminated any remaining chance EWU (12-17, 6-10) had of qualifying for the six-team league tournament and brought an end to the college careers of Adris DeLeon, Milan Stanojevic, Andy Genao and Jeff Christensen.
It was that last development that hit home hardest for Brandon Moore, Eastern’s junior center, who did what he could to give his senior teammates at least one more game by putting together a 18 point, 14 rebound double-double that also included five blocked shots.
“It’s a different feeling thinking you’ll never play with those guys again,”
Eastern, which never led by more than a point prior to the extra period, tied the game at 56 on a jump hook by Moore with a minute left in regulation and had a chance to win after Benny Valentine, who finished with 11 points, forced PSU into a turnover with 37 second remaining.
But after running down the shot clock, the Eagles came away empty when Genao missed a well-contested shot on a baseline drive just before the buzzer.
Then, after jumping to a 60-57 lead in the first 2 ½ minutes of the overtime, they let the Viking loose on a 9-2 run to close the game, thanks, in part, to some shaky decision making on the perimeter.
Eastern coach Kirk Earlywine, while pleased with his team’s second half effort, wasn’t particularly pleased with the defense he saw in the first half, which ended with PSU holding a 36-27 lead.
“We had too many possessions in the first half where we had, within a possession, a non-competitive moment by an individual guy – not the same guy, it was spread out,” Earlywine explained. “Then, in the second half, I thought we really bucked down and have very few non-competitive moments.
“(PSU) is a terrific offensive team, so I thought our defense and effort level in the second half was spectacular. And we needed it to be.”
“Hopefully we will have him for the full year next year.”