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Eastern Washington University Basketball
Sports >  EWU basketball

Eastern Washington limits turnovers in win over Northern Arizona

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 22, 2020

Eastern Washington guard Jacob Davison  shoots against Northern Arizona during a Big Sky Conference game on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Cheney. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington guard Jacob Davison shoots against Northern Arizona during a Big Sky Conference game on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Cheney. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Eastern Washington took care of the basketball and, as a result, took care of resurgent Northern Arizona.

The Eagles had a season-low five turnovers in their 80-70 dispatching of the Lumberjacks on Saturday at Reese Court, the 10th win over their Big Sky Conference foe in 11 meetings.

EWU forward Mason Peatling continued his late-season surge, totaling a game-high 27 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, an effort that helped the Eagles (19-8, 12-4 Big Sky) beat a NAU team (15-11, 9-8) that brought the league’s fourth-best conference record to Cheney.

“We were pushing the ball and getting great looks from behind the 3-point line,” said Peatling, whose team shot 8 for 26 from 3-point range. “And it gave me a lot of offensive rebounding opportunities.”

The Eagles, tied for second place with Northern Colorado in the Big Sky standings, remain in contention for the conference crown. They trail first-place Montana (17-10, 13-3) by one game heading into their final four-game stretch.

EWU averaged 16.6 turnovers in its previous six games but still ranked second in the Big Sky turnover-to-assist ratio going into the game.

Reserve freshman guard Casson Rouse has helped the Eagles’ league-best assist average (17.8). EWU head coach Shantay Legans opted to limit starting true freshman point guard Ellis Magnuson to just 6 minutes, giving the duties to Rouse.

Rouse had five assists and no turnovers, and played solid defense against NAU’s efficient guards.

“I like to bring energy, whether I’m on the bench or starting,” Rouse said. “I tied to come in with energy, push the break and even play fast in half court.”

EWU, which beat NAU 77-66 on the road last month, also outrebounded the Lumberjacks 42-30.

In one of EWU’s most complete games of the conference season, it still found itself in an early deficit.

NAU was hot and led most of the first half, hitting six of its first nine 3-point attempts, three by guard Cameron Satterwhite.

“At halftime, the players were talking about being smart defensively,” Legans said. “And some of the (NAU) guys who hit those early shots were the guys we wanted to shoot the ball, but they got hot.”

After Bernie Andre’s jumper gave NAU a 32-28 lead, the Lumberjacks went cold, missing 15 of their next 20 shots.

EWU took advantage of the cold spell, manufacturing a run sparked by consecutive 3s by Kim Aiken Jr. (12 points, eight rebounds) and Rouse, and the Eagles took a 40-34 halftime lead.

Jacob Davison, who scored 41 points against NAU last year, helped the Eagles maintain that second-half momentum with a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks.

A strong move inside by Peatling gave the Eagles a 56-37 lead – their biggest of the game – but the Lumberjacks didn’t go away.

NAU used a 21-8 run to cut the Eagles’ lead to 64-58, but 3-pointers by Peatling, Aiken and Jack Perry (13 points) helped douse the Lumberjacks’ comeback.

Cameron Shelton had 20 points and seven assists to lead NAU, which hit seven of its first 10 3-pointers in the first half.

In its previous four seasons, NAU, now led by interim coach Shane Burcar, averaged roughly five conference wins a season.

Legans praised Burcar, a decorated Arizona high school coach before making the move to college in 2018, for helping turn around the Lumberjacks’ program.

“They came in prepared. (Burcar) is doing good with that team,” Legans said. “They have some good players there, so it will be interesting when we get to the Big Sky Tournament.”

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