Not surprisingly, the nearly unfathomable run of injuries that continues to plague the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team made the Eagles’ 66-60 exhibition loss to Montana State-Billings at Reese Court Monday night downright painful to watch. For everyone.
With sophomore Glen Dean, last year’s starting point guard, sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot, and first-year junior college transfer Cliff Colimon unable to play because of an ankle sprain he sustained in practice Sunday, EWU found itself without a point guard against the NCAA Division II Yellowjackets.
As a result, coach Kirk Earlywine juggled things in an attempt to find some offensive consistency.
None was uncovered. Eastern shot a miserable 25 percent (15 of 60) from the floor and missed 13 of 40 free throw attempts in dropping its second, and final, exhibition game prior to Friday night’s regular-season and home opener against San Jose State.
“Offensively tonight, it was very obvious that we were playing without a point guard,” Earlywine said, after watching his team get only four assists. “And that was painful.”
Sophomore shooting guard Kevin Winford, playing out of position at the point, and first-year junior forward Cliff Ederaine each had 14 points for the Eagles. But Tremayne Johnson, another first-year junior forward, who scored 22 in EWU’s 87-82 exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific, had a mere nine.
Eastern’s three front-line starters were a combined 7 of 30..
“And how many of those were from point-blank?” Earlywine asked. “A lot of those shots were at the front of rim, but I thought they hurried a little bit and pressed a little bit.”
The Eagles made only two of their first 16 basket tries and trailed 30-23 at halftime. But they put together a nice 14-3 run coming out of intermission and took a 37-33 lead before suffering through a field-goal drought that lasted nearly 7½ minutes.