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Eastern Washington University Basketball

Eastern Washington has seven scorers in double figures during home-opening rout of Walla Walla

Eastern Washington's Ethan Price shoots against Walla Walla on Wednesday at Reese Court in Cheney.  (Courtesy of EWU Athletics)
By Dan Thompson The Spokesman-Review

Late last season, winning became the norm for the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team, the reigning Big Sky champions.

So to start the year with four losses – albeit against major conference opponents – was a bit of a shift for the Eagles.

But against Walla Walla University on Wednesday, they got back to winning, with a 97-46 victory at Reese Court in Cheney.

“Yeah it does (feel good to win),” junior Casey Jones said. “Especially after last year, when it was all we were doing.”

Jones and true freshman Mason Williams each scored a team-high 13 for the Eagles (1-4), who had seven players reach double digits in scoring against the NAIA Wolves (1-2), for whom this game counted as an exhibition.

Behind 12-11 early, the Eagles went on an 18-0 run later in the first half to build a 51-24 lead at the break. They led by as many as 53 in the second half.

“When you’re playing this tough schedule it’s nice to come home and get a win against Walla Walla, but I wouldn’t want it any other way,” EWU head coach David Riley said. “Our first four games, we got to build a lot, we got to see where the holes were in our foundation, and I don’t think those get exposed as clearly if you play different kinds of teams. I’m excited about where we’re going.”

There were few obvious holes in the Eagles’ game on Wednesday. They shot 55% from the field (37-of-67) and made 12 of 35 3-point attempts. They had assists on 27 of those 37 baskets and made 11 of 14 free throws. The Wolves shot 27.4% from the field.

Junior Cedric Coward had 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds, while redshirt freshman LeJuan Watts had 12 points, four rebounds and a team-leading six assists.

Freshman Sebastian Hartmann added six points and four assists, and freshman Vice Zanki – in his first appearance of the season – scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

“We have a really special freshman class,” Riley said. “What Mason (Williams) and Basty (Hartmann) have already done to contribute this early is exciting, and LeJuan is still a freshman, which we forget about sometimes. He’s had a special start, and he’s only going to get better. And then to get to see Vice out there a little bit today, it’s fun.”

Eastern Washington plays at Washington State on Monday, then at USC on Nov. 29.