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Eastern Washington University Basketball

Eastern Washington beats Northern Arizona 78-65 for second-straight Big Sky win

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

Playing at altitude and again missing a number of players, the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team shrugged off any apparent fatigue to beat Northern Arizona 78-65 on Saturday in Flagstaff for its second consecutive Big Sky Conference road victory.

Linton Acliese III led all scorers with a career-high 30 points and also added a game-high 11 rebounds. He helped guide a 39-28 rebounding edge for the Eagles, who played just eight players, two of whom combined for only 7 minutes.

Acliese made 13 of 17 field-goal attempts and scored eight more than his previous season high of 22 points, set in the second game of the season. He had just two fouls, and the Eagles were whistled for just 13 fouls all game with no one collecting more than three.

That allowed the Eagles, who also won Thursday at Portland State, to mostly play a six-man rotation, led by guard Steele Venters, who played all 40 minutes.

Northern Arizona (4-9, 1-2) led by as many as nine points in the first half, but Eastern used a late run to grab a 38-36 halftime lead. The Lumberjacks shot 44.8% percent from the field and made 8 of 14 3-point attempts in the first half, but after halftime they made just 9 of 32 attempts overall (28.1%).

“Our players stepped up in the second half,” Eagles coach David Riley said in a postgame radio interview. “They took it personally that Northern Arizona was shooting so well in the first half. Our assistant coaches came in with some really good adjustments and did a great job on the scout.”

The Eagles shot well all game, making 31 of 55 field-goal attempts, their best shooting percentage (56.4) this season. Rylan Bergersen was second on the team in scoring with 17 points, followed by Venters with 14 and Ethan Price with nine.

Eastern did most of its scoring in the paint (46 points) where Northern Arizona did not (14). The Eagles attempted a season-low 15 shots from 3-point range.

At 2-1 in the Big Sky (8-6 overall), the Eagles are among five teams above .500 in conference play. That includes Southern Utah, which beat Eastern earlier this season.

The Eagles return home to play against Montana on Thursday and Idaho on Saturday.