Eastern Washington University has leaned heavily on the offensive talents of first-year junior college transfer Collin Chiverton during the infant stages of this college basketball season.
But Sunday afternoon, with Chiverton watching from the bench with four fouls, the Eagles showed they have some other weapons as well by putting together a 19-1 run that propelled them to a 79-59 nonconference win over visiting UC Davis in front of a Reese Court crowd of 1,563.
Cliff Ederaine finished with a career-high 23 points, along with a career-high seven assists, eight rebounds and three blocks, and three of his teammates also scored in double figures as Eastern (3-2) wore down the Aggies (1-6), who were playing their seventh game in 15 days.
Cliff Colimon and Tremayne Johnson each threw in 13 points for the Eagles, who also got 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks from Laron Griffin.
“We have a lot of weapons – starters or guys coming off the bench, it doesn’t matter,” said Ederaine, a slender senior forward generously listed at 6-foot-7 on the roster. “Their plan was just to box-and-one Chivy from the start, but we’ve still got to keep the train moving and not let things like that affect us.”
UC Davis’ defensive strategy worked well early on, as Chiverton, who came in averaging a team-high 19.5 points per game, struggled to find and convert shots.
But shortly after the 6-6 junior picked up his fourth foul and the Aggies closed to within 46-41 on a pair of Alex Tiffin free throws with just under 15 minutes left in the game, Ederaine scored on a three-point play that produced the first of 13 unanswered points and served as the catalyst for EWU’s decisive run.
“We have a bench where anybody can score like 20 or more on any given night,” said Colimon, who scored six points during the run and also finished with five assists and three of Eastern’s eight steals. “We feel like any game it can be somebody different.”
The Eagles opened the game with a nice 17-9 run and seemed on the verge of blowing the Aggies out early. But after Ederaine scored his 11th point less than 6 ½ minutes in, Davis held them to just three field goals the rest of the first half.
“I was disappointed at halftime, because I knew we could play harder,” first-year Eastern coach Jim Hayford said. “We let their box-and-one kind of make us stand around too much, but then in the second half we came out and we were the aggressor.
“If we play like the hunted, we have no chance, and I thought that was the difference in the two halves.”
Of Ederaine’s performance, Hayford added: “Cliff’s been our most consistent player through five games. We stood around too much (in the first half), but then we started moving and running stuff through the high post, which is when Big Cliff just put the team on his shoulders.”
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