Oregon’s size was a problem for Eastern Washington.
The Eagles’ chilly shooting was an even bigger hindrance.
The defending Pac-12 champions took advantage of each on Monday, downing EWU 69-52 at Matthew Knight Arena, Oregon’s 23rd consecutive home win.
The longer, more athletic Ducks outscored EWU 38-20 in the paint, won the rebound battle 45-31 and held the Eagles to 33% (19 for 57) shooting from the field.
For the third straight game, EWU, the defending Big Sky Conference champion widely expected to win another title, shot 2 for 15 from 3-point range in the second half.
EWU recently suffered narrow losses at Washington State (71-68) and Arizona (70-67) with missing pieces due to COVID-19 protocol.
On Monday, with a full roster, EWU had trouble stopping three high-scoring forwards.
Eugene Omoruyi (18 points), Eric Williams Jr. (17 points, 10 rebounds) and LJ Figueroa (12 points 10 rebounds) led the Ducks, who ended the game on a 10-2 run and never trailed in the second half.
Eastern was paced by All-Big Sky guard Jacob Davison (15 points), who scored EWU’s first eight points on 4- for-4 shooting, but cooled off to finish 5 for 16 from the field.
The Eagles’ other All-Big Sky returnee, Kim Aiken Jr., was scoreless.
“You have to make shots, that’s the name of the game. Put the ball in the hole,” EWU coach Shantay Legans said. “But that was a very dynamic team we played tonight, and we didn’t make plays when we needed to make them.”
The Eagles came out hot, though.
EWU shot 56% in the first 10 minutes and Tyler Robertson hit a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 21-16 lead but Oregon scored 17 of the next 24 points and never again trailed.
Oregon, picked third in the Pac-12 preseason poll after adding several transfers, wanted better ball movement than it had in Friday’s 80-73 win over Seton Hall.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do but we should be making progress,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “It’s only our third game, and I told the guys I don’t expect us to be perfect, but we gotta make improvements.”
Robertson, a reserve forward, finished with 11 points, point guard Casson Rouse had 10 points and big man Tanner Groves, who had trouble scoring inside against the Ducks, was held to four points but had 13 rebounds.
After missing EWU’s first two games due to a positive coronavirus test, Ellis Magnuson, who started 31 games last season, returned at point guard. He played eight minutes and had two assists.
Freshman and Ellensburg product Steele Venters made his collegiate debut, making his first two 3-point attempts, the first cutting Oregon’s lead to 57-50 down the stretch.
“I liked how we played, we played tough,” Legans said. “That was an NCAA Tournament team we played tonight. We played three games against three Pac-12 teams on the road, and that will help us get better.”
The game was initially slated for Nov. 25, but was postponed after two EWU players yielded positive COVID-19 test results.
The reschedule was made hastily over the weekend and EWU adjusted its course. Instead of returning to Cheney after its game at Arizona on Saturday, it instead headed for Eugene.
EWU now travels to Las Vegas to face UNLV (1-4) on Wednesday.Ryan Collingwood can be reached at (208) 676-6576 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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