Eastern Washington overcame a 19-point lead – fueled by a freshman off the bench – to beat Washington State for the first time since 1997 on Saturday.
The Eagles (3-3) upset the Cougars (5-1) 76-71 in Pullman, behind Mason Landdeck’s 24 points on 5-of-12 shooting and 12 free throws.
The 6-foot-2 guard out of Zillah, Washington, hadn’t scored more than four points the previous two games. On Saturday, he scored the Eagles’ final six and held up a finger to shush the 2,700 fans in Beasley Coliseum.
“I think (Landdeck) honestly just brought it,” WSU guard Tyrell Roberts said, who had a team-high 23 points and fouled out in the closing seconds. “It’s impressive and embarrassing at the same time.”
EWU head coach David Riley said it was fun to watch Landdeck grow, and the team played a better up -tempo style once it cleaned up its turnover issues.
“He’s a little firecracker and he got us going in the second half,” Riley said of Landdeck. “We’ll have ups and downs the rest of the year, but we can always go back to this one.”
For the Cougars, this will be a game to forget. WSU had its worst shooting night of the season, as leading scorer Noah Williams and guard TJ Bamba were out with neck injuries.
The Cougars shot 19 of 61 (31.1%) from the field and 9 of 31 (29%) on 3-pointers. Roberts and guard Michael Flowers (21 points) were the only Cougars in double figures.
“Shots just didn’t fall,” Roberts said. “When you have nights like that, that’s when you need to defend and that’s where we came up short tonight.”
The Eagles shot 25 of 54 (46.3%) from the field and outscored the Cougars 28-14 in the paint. EWU didn’t make a field goal for a 7-minute stretch in the first half, but closed the final 1:30 on a 7-0 run, which was extended to a 17-0 run out of halftime.
The lead changed five more times and the score was tied at 65 before EWU pulled ahead for good on a layup from Rylan Bergersen with 2:31 remaining.
WSU head coach Kyle Smith bemoaned his team’s second-half performance, which featured 10 turnovers and allowed Landdeck to score 18 of his 24 points.
“We haven’t been in a tight, tough game yet, but that’s hopefully where we can learn,” Smith said. “There’s a little malaise out there and an effort issue we need to address.”
Earlier this week, the Cougars squandered a big lead, beating Winthrop 92-86 despite a 24-point advantage in the second half. WSU will have little time to regroup with conference games against Arizona State and USC next week.
The Eagles needed the boost after a sluggish start to the season. They face Big Sky preseason favorite Southern Utah on Thursday.
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