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Eastern Washington University Basketball
Sports >  EWU basketball

Tanner Groves, Eastern Washington outmuscle Sacramento State 68-60

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 31, 2021

Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves shoots a 3-pointer Sunday at Reese Court. The Eagles beat Sacramento State 68-60.  (Bridget Mayfield/EWU Athletics )
Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves shoots a 3-pointer Sunday at Reese Court. The Eagles beat Sacramento State 68-60. (Bridget Mayfield/EWU Athletics )

Senior point guard Jack Perry wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, the result of a positive coronavirus test.

His roommate Tanner Groves, who was cleared to play after contract tracing protocols, helped make up the difference.

The versatile big man and Shadle Park graduate scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as Eastern Washington downed Sacramento State 68-60 at Reese Court.

Groves did most of his damage in the first half (15 points, 11 rebounds) and hit three straight 3-pointers, sparking a game-changing 18-1 run.

“He can score pretty much anyway he can,” EWU coach Shantay Legans said. “They were defending him differently, making him do different things, but he’s also a pretty good passer,”

When Groves wasn’t scoring, Tyler Robertson provided a second-half spark after EWU suffered through a 2-for-15 shooting lull.

Robertson, a 6-foot-7 wing with an inside-outside game similar to that of Groves, added 13 points and four assists for the Eagles (5-6, 4-2 Big Sky).

The Eagles previously had paused team operations for the second time this season after the positive coronavirus test and entered Sunday’s game without having practiced for more a week.

But EWU came out inspired on the defensive end against a slow, methodical Sacramento State (6-4, 4-3) team that was held to 9-for-28 (32%) first-half shooting.

“As a team in general, that really that set the tone for us,” Groves said. “Offensively, we moved the ball well and were able to get some really good shots.

A thing Sacramento State does really well is crash the (offensive) boards well, but I think we did a good job of taking that away early.”

EWU won the rebounding battle 41-33.

Jacob Davison, EWU’s two-time All-Big Sky guard and preseason MVP, didn’t start for the second straight game. He scored seven of his nine points in the first half.

Kim Aiken Jr, another returning All-Big Sky guard, was held to four points.

But the Eagles found ways to score despite another less-than-stellar performance behind the 3-point line (6-for-25).

EWU saw its 15-point lead shrink to 64-60 in the final minute, but Davison and Aiken each hit two free throws, holding off the Hornets.

Ethan Esposito, the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, led Sacramento State with 17 points and eight rebounds.

The Eagles face the Hornets again on Monday at 11 a.m. at Reese Court.

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