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Eastern Washington University Basketball
Sports >  EWU basketball

Eastern Washington men lean on starters to beat Portland State 63-58

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 30, 2021

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

Without much depth to turn to, Eastern Washington’s starters were asked to play more and do more than usual on Thursday.

And even though just four Eagles players scored, that was enough to get the team back over .500 on the season.

Khalid Thomas missed what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, and Angelo Allegri went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line after that to seal Eastern Washington’s first Big Sky Conference victory of the season, 63-58 over host Portland State on Thursday.

“It’s going to be part of the season, part of the year,” Eagles coach David Riley said of playing shorthanded in a radio interview postgame, “and you’ve got to be able to be flexible and ready to adapt.”

Entering the game, Allegri had made just 7 of 16 free-throw attempts. But he went 6 for 7 at the line against the Vikings (3-8, 1-2 Big Sky), a team the Eagles (7-6, 1-1) hadn’t faced in two seasons, their matchups last year wiped out by COVID-19 cases.

Allegri had 19 points on 5-of-14 shooting, including a 3-of-8 effort from the 3-point line. Steele Venters led Eastern with 20 points, sinking 7 of 13 field-goal attempts. Linton Acliese III had 15 points and Rylan Bergersen added nine to round out the Eagles’ scoring.

Both teams played without a handful of players for various reasons.

The Vikings were missing three of their four top scorers; the Eagles had just eight players available and were most notably without Mason Landdeck, their sixth-leading scorer.

Then, EWU freshman center Ethan Price dealt with foul trouble early and was held scoreless for the first time this season. He missed all four of his shots.

But Victor Radocaj and Michael Folarin gave the Eagles 7 minutes apiece to spell Price and maintain the Eagles’ lead, which they held for all but 5 minutes of the game.

“It was fun to see them come out there and make some plays,” Riley said of Radocaj and Folarin, both freshmen.

Eastern stretched its lead to as many as 11 early in the second half, but the Vikings got back within a possession multiple times down the stretch.

Yet the Vikings couldn’t overcome the Eagles. Neither team shot particularly well – Eastern made 38% of its field-goal attempts, Portland State 35% – but the Eagles grabbed 10 more rebounds.

Bergersen had nine rebounds, Allegri and Acliese added seven apiece and Venters had six. Bergersen and sophomore Ellis Magnuson both had five of the Eagles’ 15 assists.

Four of the five Big Sky games scheduled for Thursday night were played, the only postponement being the game between Idaho and Northern Arizona due to COVID-19 issues in the Vandals’ program.

Eastern plays at Northern Arizona (4-8, 1-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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