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Eagles clamp down on high-scoring Matadors

Cal State Northridge arrived in Cheney with a 4-1 record and the credentials to back it up.

The Matadors, averaging 87.6 points a game with wins over Southern Cal and Tulsa, were coming off a 117-55 layup-drill drilling of NAIA Hope International and had a sharp-shooter in Mike Efevberha averaging 26 points a game.

But none of that meant anything Sunday afternoon as Eastern Washington rolled to a 70-48 win before 1,235 fans at Reese Court.

“There’s not a lot of say after a game like that,” Eastern coach Mike Burns said after a quick meeting with his team. “I just thought we did a good job defensively.”

The damage was spread across the board but 6-foot-4 freshman Rodney Stuckey did the most with a career-high 25 points, four steals, three assists and the bulk of the defense that held Efevberha to eight.

“We were really hyped,” Stuckey said. “We had good practices this week and we were really pumped up. Coach said that if we came out and contained No. 23 we would be fine. I love to play defense and the coaches always try to put me on their toughest guy. If I have a job to do I’m going to try and do my best at it.”

Sophomore Kellen Williams added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles (3-3) and sophomore Jake Beitinger had five assists and five blocks, one short of the school record. Williams and Matt Penoncello also took turns guarding Efevberha.

“We were able to dodge a few bullets from Efevberha,” Burns said after the 6-5 guard made just 2 of 10 shots. “He’s a great player and on tape he’s done some really remarkable things.”

Stuckey got the Eagles off to a quick start. He opened the scoring with a drive along the left baseline. After a Matadors basket, he posted up on the right block and turned that into a three-point play. Then he hit from the left side of the lane, assisted on a Betinger jumper and followed with a 3-pointer from the right wing, good for a 12-2 lead.

The barrage continued with Stuckey scoring 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three 3s that got the lead to 24-11 lead midway through the half. Then he picked up two fouls in three seconds and sat out the final 9 1/2 minutes, but the Eagles didn’t miss a beat, pushing the lead to 38-21 at the half.

“We were worried when Rodney picked up two quick fouls,” Burns said. “I was proud of the way the bench stepped up.”

Williams picked up the slack with six points and Neal Zumwalt hit a 3 and fed Penoncello for a basket to end the half.

“On different nights we have guys with different strengths and we just try to push the right buttons,” Burns said. “It seemed like tonight every button we pushed was the right one.”

The Eagles shot 63 percent in the first half and held Northridge to 27 percent.

The second half was more of the same with the lead reaching 29 with just under 6 minutes left.

Northridge had a six-point surge, the final two points coming after a technical foul on Burns at the 9:32 mark. But that only cut the lead to 21 and then Matador coach Bobby Braswell immediately got a technical and soon the lead was 29.

Northridge, which got 18 points from Terrell Jones, shot 29 percent and never made a 3 in nine attempts after averaging seven in the first five games. Eastern finished with 53 percent shooting and a 42-24 rebounding advantage.

“Everything starts in practice,” Stuckey said. “As long as we work hard in practice and do what we need to do it will lead to victories like this.”

The Eagles are at UC Riverside on Saturday and don’t return to Reese until Cal Poly comes in Dec. 23. However, they are at Washington on the 16th and play Gonzaga at the Arena on the 19th.

EWU 70, CS Northridge 48

Cal State Northridge (4-2)—Everage 1-5 0-0 2, Jones 7-11 4-6 18, Shewmake 1-3 0-2 2, Efevberha 2-10 4-4 8, Altheimer 0-3 1-2 1, Heard 2-8 4-5 8, Haynes 0-4 1-2 1, Hill 1-4 2-3 4, Walton 0-0 2-4 2, Powers 1-3 0-1 2, Waggener 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-52 18-29 48.

Eastern Washington (3-3)—Beitinger 2-6 1-2 5, Williams 7-10 0-0 14, Butorac 0-1 5-6 5, Stuckey 9-13 4-5 25, Smith 3-5 3-3 9, Livi 0-0 1-2 1, Penoncello 2-2 0-0 4, Bekkering 0-2 0-0 0, Humphrey 0-0 2-3 2, Zumwalt 1-3 0-0 3, Bright 0-0 0-2 0, Risper 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 25-47 16-23 70.

Halftime—Eastern Washington 38, Cal State Northridge 21. 3-point goals—Cal State Northridge 0-9 (Jones 0-1, Shewmake 0-1, Altheimer 0-1, Haynes 0-1, Hill 0-1, Efevberha 0-4), Eastern Washington 4-13 (Stuckey 3-7, Zumwalt 1-2, Williams 0-1, Bekkering 0-1, Beitinger 0-2). Fouled out—Butorac. Rebounds—Cal State Northridge 24 (Jones, Heard), Eastern Washington 42 (Williams 10). Assists—Cal State Northridge 11 (Efevberha, Altheimer, Heard 2), Eastern Washington 15 (Beitinger 5). Total fouls—Cal State Northridge 20, Eastern Washington 24. Technicals—Cal State Northridge bench, Eastern Washington bench. A—1,235.

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