Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 63° Partly Cloudy


Eagles stagger home for Christmas

The members of Eastern Washington University's men's basketball team head for Christmas break in a major funk after losing to previously winless Jackson State in the Las Vegas Classic on Wednesday.

You can read an unedited version of the game story that will appear in Thursday morning's S-R below.

Jackson State upends Eagles

LAS VEGASEastern Washington University continued its pre-holiday freefall Wednesday, losing to previously winless Jackson State 72-67 in the consolation bracket of the Las Vegas Classic in Orleans Arena.



The loss was the fourth straight for the Eagles (4-9), who will break briefly for Christmas before venturing into Gonzaga’s McCarthy Athletic Center on Monday night for a 6 o’clock non-conference matchup against the nationally ranked Bulldogs.



And unless Eastern can find a quick fix for it sputtering offense, things could get even uglier than they were in Vegas, where the Eagles dropped games back-to-back games to Chicago State and JSU, a pair of struggling teams that came into the event with a combined record of 3-17 and not a single Division-I win between them.



In Jackson State (1-10), EWU was facing a team that had been outscored by an average of almost 20 points per games. Still, the Eagles were never able to establish any kind of offensive rhythm or control, and needed a barrage of late 3-pointers from senior guard Benny Valentine to make the final score much closer than it probably should have been.



Valentine, who finished with 17 points to tie freshman guard Glen Dean for team-high scoring honors, threw in three triples in the final 21 seconds after Eastern had fallen behind 70-58.  Otherwise, the Eagles didn’t have much to crow about during a second-half that saw Jackson State score 10 straight points to build a 60-50 lead and then douse any comeback hopes Eastern might have had by 12 straight free throws in the final four minutes of the game.



The Tigers, who got a game-high 19 points from junior wing Tyrone Hanson, came in shooting just 37.7 percent from the field, but knocked down 20 of 45 basket tries – along with 30 of 38 free throws – against the hapless Eagles, whose front-line players were a combined 4-for-14 from the field.



“Our lack of speed, quickness and athletic ability on the front line was very evident,” admitted third-year Eastern coach Kirk Earlywine. “We had 12 shots within three feet that we missed. We had a size and strength advantage, but when you can’t score the ball in the paint, that negates whatever advantage we had.



“Hopefully, Christmas will bring us back our shooting eye. When you follow up 28 (percent) shooting (against Chicago State) with 38 percent (against JSU), it’s pretty tough.”




SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.