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Eastern Washington erupts in the second half to sweep Sacramento State

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 1, 2021

Sacramento State couldn’t miss.

The Hornets connected on their first five 3-point attempts, putting Eastern Washington into a swift 15-point hole Monday at Reese Court.

But EWU pulled out the stinger, began getting stops and proceeded to have one of its most well-rounded offensive outings of the coronavirus-altered season.

Tyler Robertson was nearly perfect from the field (7 for 8), scoring a team-high 20 points with six assists, leading five Eagles who reached double figures in a 94-79 dispatching of Sacramento State, its second win over the Hornets in 24 hours.

“It’s a long game. We had to play tough and we had to play smart,” EWU coach Shantay Legans said. “I didn’t think (Sacramento State guard Brandon Davis) would come out and hit three 3s in a row, but we stuck to the game plan.”

EWU (6-6, 5-2 Big Sky) shot 70% from the field in the second half, including a 7-for-10 mark from 3-point range.

Robertson, a 6-foot-7 wing from Australia, led the 3-point surge (4 for 4) along with Jacob Davison (4 for 6) and Steele Venters (2 for 3).

“We knew we haven’t been shooting (3-pointers) that great,” Robertson said. “But we trust our team, trust our shooters to make shots. Slumps happen.”

When EWU went inside, it was steady junior Tanner Groves (17 points) and his brother Jacob Groves (11) doing the damage, leading a team that outscored the Hornets 46-22 in the paint.

Davison, a two-time All-Big Sky guard, didn’t start for the third straight game, elevating sophomore Mike Meadows into the starting lineup.

Meadows scored a career-high 11 points, added three assists and was effective on the defensive end, helping the Eagles hold Sacramento State to 36% shooting in the second half.

“They came out and hit us, but we responded,” Meadows said. “It starts with defense.”

Sacramento State (6-5, 4-4) took a 46-43 lead into halftime after Hornets leading scorer Bryce Fowler (20 points) banked in a 32-footer at the buzzer.

After a chippy and emotional first half – Legans and Sacramento State coach Brian Katz were called for a double technical after exchanging words from their respective benches – the Eagles turned it on.

When Robertson hit a 3-pointer at the 15:41 mark to give EWU a 51-48 lead, the Eagles wouldn’t trail again and saw their lead balloon to 21 points.

EWU has now won 11 of its last 12 games against Sacramento State.

“These wins were huge and we have to keep doing that the rest of the way,” Legans said.

The Eagles travel to Idaho (0-13, 0-10) on Thursday and host the Vandals on Saturday.

Groves honored: After posting his third consecutive double-double (23 points, 15 rebounds) in EWU’s 68-60 win over Sacramento State on Sunday, Tanner Groves earned his second Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honor this season.

The Shadle Park graduate averages a team-high 17.4 points and 9.4 rebounds.

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