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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Four corners notebook: Eagles working on building bench depth

By the simple expedient of benching guard Parker Kelly for the first time this year, Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford got more scoring from his bench on Saturday.

But it was more than mathematical sleight of hand; Hayford started Thomas Reuter to give the Eagles more muscle on the boards, and Kelly came off the bench for 17 points in a 94-90 overtime win over Northern Colorado.

In five prior games, the Eagles’ bench produced just 39 points, but got 30 against the Bears.

“I joked with Parker after the game and told him, ‘Well, that solves our bench production if we take you off the bench and you play like that,’ ” Hayford said.

“Parker has been in a slump. He didn’t complain, and there wasn’t any conversation about it. He was just like, ‘If you call my number I’ll be ready.’ ”

Likewise, former starting center Martin Seiferth is “giving us a defensive adjustment off the bench we didn’t have before,” Hayford said.

Against the Bears, Seiferth came off the bench to score 12 points and grab six rebounds in 28 minutes.

The larger picture: Hayford is cultivating a deeper bench, partly to lower the average minutes of guards Tyler Harvey (36.7 minutes per game) and Drew Brandon (35 mpg) and forward Venky Jois (31.9).

“Getting more of the starters down to 30-34 minutes, and finishing with 50 good bench minutes, is part of this next big step for our program,” Hayford said.

Not so Super Sunday

Sunday was a tough day for Gonzaga senior forward Sam Dower Jr., the Minnesota native whose favorite quarterback is Peyton Manning. Seattle roughed up Manning and Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl.

“I’m not a Broncos fan but Peyton’s my favorite quarterback,” Dower said. “I was around a bunch of Seahawks fans watching it at my house. It was me and ‘Stocks’ (David Stockton) against the world at the house.”

Shelton heats up

Entering this season, Washington State was counting on D.J. Shelton to handle much of the team’s scoring and rebounding responsibilities. The results were mixed. He averaged just 8.3 points per game in the team’s nonconference schedule.

“I think I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself early on in the season and tried to be too perfect,” Shelton said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to early on so I kind of dropped my head a little bit.”

But Shelton is coming around. The forward has scored at least 17 points in three of the team’s last four games, peaking with a 20-point, 18-rebound performance in WSU’s win over Washington on Saturday.

“I had a talk with coach (Ken Bone) and he just let me know to relax and it’s going to come,” he said.

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