Rylan Bergersen’s 15 points lead Eastern Washington over Sacramento State 75-62
Jan. 20, 2022 Updated Thu., Jan. 20, 2022 at 9:48 p.m.
Despite what his season statistics might suggest, Rylan Bergersen is quite certain that he is a good 3-point shooter.
So when he finally made one early in the second half Thursday – his first in three games and just the 10th he has made this season in 47 attempts – Bergersen sure felt good.
“I can’t tell you how much of a relief that 3 felt like,” said the Eastern Washington grad transfer, who last year made 33.9% of his 3-point attempts at Central Arkansas. “Hopefully, we can get that rolling.”
Bergersen’s coach, David Riley, hadn’t lost faith.
“We knew it was coming,” Riley said. “He went, like, 8 for 8 two days ago in practice. It was coming.”
In the Eagles’ first game in 12 days, Bergersen scored 15 points and had six assists to lead the Eagles to a 75-62 victory over the visiting Sacramento State Hornets at Reese Court in a game that kicked off a stretch of six in 12 days for Eastern Washington.
The Eagles (10-7, 4-2 Big Sky) had to postpone both of their scheduled games last week due to COVID-19 protocols in their program.
But they hardly looked rusty, draining their first three 3-point attempts while holding the Hornets (5-8, 1-5) to 34.5% shooting in the first half.
That was enough to build a 38-29 lead at halftime.
Rather than let that lead dwindle as they did last time out against Idaho, the Eagles kept their advantage in double digits most of the second half.
They were able to do so largely because of 10-point advantages in points in the paint (32-22) and second-chance scoring (17-7), efforts driven by their 14 offensive rebounds, their third most this season.
“We’ve been consistently saying we need to play with an edge at home, and we did today,” Bergersen said, as the Eagles improved to 2-2 in home Big Sky games. “A lot of times we’ll shoot it and we’ll just assume it’s going in, and only one guy crashes (the boards). I think today we did a much better job of everybody crashing.”
That was true on both ends of the court, as Eastern outrebounded Sacramento State 44-29. Angelo Allegri had a season-high 14 rebounds to go with 14 points, recording his first double-double in his first season with the Eagles.
All five of Eastern’s starters scored in double digits, as the Eagles got 13 points from grad transfer Linton Acliese III (who also had eight rebounds), 14 from Steele Venters and 10 from fellow freshman Ethan Price.
The Eagles also got a spark from freshman Casey Jones, who played almost 9 minutes and made the most of them. He grabbed seven rebounds and hit both his shots, including the first 3-pointer of his college career.
Jones’ shot was an important one: It gave the Eagles a 51-40 lead midway through the second half after the Hornets had pulled within six just a few possessions earlier.
“I was definitely hyped,” Bergersen said of Jones’ 3. “It was a big shot for sure.”
“He stepped up,” Riley said of Jones. “That takes a lot of mental toughness, for him to not play the first half and play limited minutes the last couple games. To his credit, like he just keeps working in practice. He shows up.”
The Hornets got 17 points from junior Zach Chappell and 12 from senior Bryce Fowler, who made as many free throws (eight) as the Eagles did as a team. Chappell and Fowler each had eight rebounds.
The Eagles finished with 20 assists, their most in six conference games so far.
Eastern continues its busy stretch with a home game Saturday against Northern Colorado.
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