MOSCOW, Idaho – Eastern Washington University finally has a men’s basketball breakthrough against a Northwest foe. Now the Eagles are ready to make a statement this weekend – against another neighboring school.
After eight-point losses to Gonzaga and Oregon earlier this year, the Eagles crafted a 73-66 triumph over Idaho at Memorial Gym on Wednesday night.
The crisp-shooting Eagles (4-2) dominated the Vandals (3-3) from the opening minutes. They led by 20 points with 8:47 left in the first half, thanks to Jeffrey Forbes’ second 3-pointer – and EWU’s seventh in 13 attempts.
“They kicked our tails from start to finish,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “It wasn’t as close as the final score. You’ve got to give Eastern all the credit. They came in here and manhandled us in every phase of the game.”
EWU bagged just its third victory in 42 games in Moscow during the 106-year rivalry with UI, and on Saturday it will take on Washington State in Pullman. Tipoff is 3:30 p.m.
It took first-year coach Jim Hayford just two minutes during his postgame radio interview to mention the Cougars.
“Let’s go down and see how we stack up with Washington State,” Hayford said. “Maybe I’m moving away from this game too fast, but it’s onto the next.”
Eastern was 13 of 28 from the 3-point line, led by Jordan Hickert’s four long-range shots. Cliff Colimon rang up 13 points and six assists, and Cliff Ederaine also had 13 points.
The Vandals closed within nine points early in the second half, but they came up empty on their next five possessions. During the first four, they had a chance to slice EWU’s lead to six or seven points.
Moments later, Hicker and Ederaine buried 3s on back-to-back possession and Eastern’s lead ballooned to 17 points.
Deremy Geiger, UI’s leading scorer, was held scoreless until just under 8 minutes were left. He finished with eight points, while Kyle Barone – who averages a double-double – had 14 points but only four rebounds.
“I’m really, really proud of our guys,” Hayford said. “Great offensive rebounding effort, and obviously we came out shooting the ball really, really well.”
Consecutive possessions midway through the first half were indicative of how much of the night went for both clubs.
With EWU leading 16-4, Idaho’s Matt Borton deflected a 3-point attempt from Colimon. But Colimon chased the ball down under the basket and sank an uncontested reverse layup – just as the shot clock expired.
Idaho then came down and struggled to get the ball inside the paint. Geiger was dribbling at the top of the key when he realized the shot clock was winding down. His desperation heave was too late – UI was whistled for a shot-clock violation.