EUGENE, Ore. – Looking for a signature win in coach Jim Hayford’s first week as coach, the Eastern Washington Eagles had a rough landing.
The Eagles held the lead for a 25-minute stretch against Pac-12 opponent Oregon on Thursday night, but the Ducks rallied in the final 11 minutes to surge past the Eagles 73-65 in a nonconference men’s basketball game at Matthew Knight Arena.
“We could have won this basketball game – it was ours for the taking and we gave it back to them,” said Hayford, whose team also gave Gonzaga a stern test in a 77-69 loss last week. “I don’t want to show any disrespect to Oregon – they are a well-coached team – but we gave a win back, and that is not going to happen. We are going to get tougher, we are going to get more basketball smart and we are not going to give away opportunities like this in the future.”
The Ducks outscored the Eagles 20-8 in the final 7:42, taking advantage of Eastern Washington’s depleted lineup after three starters fouled out over a 3-minute span midway through the half.
After going ahead 20-19 midway through the first half, Eastern led for nearly 25 minutes before Oregon took a 60-58 advantage lead with 5:37 to play.
“You have to make free throws and you have to be able to score baskets to win on the road, and we didn’t make many baskets in the second half,” Hayford said. “Our defense was good, but their pressure hurt us. We had that burp and that was the difference.”
Oregon (1-1) took its first lead of the second half on a layup by Tony Woods to make it 58-57 with 6:22 left. Garrett Sim delivered the biggest blow, draining a 3-pointer to extend Oregon’s lead to 65-58 with 5:13 to play.
Cliff Colimon led the Eagles (1-2) with 14 points and Tremayne Johnson scored 12. Collin Chiverton, Cliff Ederaine and Laron Griffin all fouled out.
Sim scored 17 points and Tyrone Nared added 15 for Oregon.