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Utah blows by cold-shooting Eastern Washington 101-66 in opener

By Dan Thompson The Spokesman-Review

Eastern Washington’s road-heavy start to the men’s basketball season began with a 101-66 loss at Utah on Monday at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.

LeJuan Watts scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to record a double-double in his first collegiate action for the Eagles.

“The kid is going to be special,” EWU head coach David Riley said of the freshman Watts, who redshirted with the Eagles last year, in a postgame radio interview.

Utah led 44-20 at half and the Eagles weren’t able to get any closer than 20 the rest of the way. The Utes (1-0) outrebounded the Eagles (0-1) 48-28 and made 55.2% of their shots. Eastern finished 25-of-66 from the field (37.9%) and dealt with foul trouble much of the game.

Senior Gabe Madsen led the Utes with 20 points; fellow senior Rollie Worster had 15 points, eight assists, six steals and five rebounds.

The Eagles made just 25.7% of their shots in the first half, including 1 of 13 3-point attempts.

“We looked a little disjointed that first half,” Riley said.

Then, in the second half, as their shooting improved, the Eagles had more trouble defensively and allowed 57 points.

Junior forward Dane Erikstrup, who picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, scored 13 points and made 3 of 6 3-pointers in 16 minutes for the Eagles. Cedric Coward had nine points and Ethan Price added eight.

It was the first time the EWU men’s basketball team gave up 100 points or more since a 112-77 loss at Gonzaga on Dec. 21, 2019.

Eastern continues its season Friday at Mississippi and is at Cincinnati on Sunday. Both games will air on ESPN+.