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Eastern Washington University Basketball

Jake Kyman steps up in second half as Eastern Washington beats Idaho 87-79

By Dan Thompson The Spokesman-Review

At halftime Saturday, Jake Kyman walked into the Eastern Washington locker room with his team ahead by one point but without a point himself.

Even more, Kyman – the Eagles’ leading 3-point shooter this season – hadn’t attempted a single shot.

“I was feeling good out there,” Kyman said. “We were getting great looks. It just wasn’t my time to shoot.”

That changed after halftime.

In the second half, Kyman made 5 of 7 field-goal attempts, including four 3-pointers, to help the Eagles hold off the Idaho Vandals 87-79 in front of the largest crowd of the season (2,174) at Reese Court in Cheney.

Kyman finished with 14 points, the third game in a row he’s scored at least that many and helped Eastern make 57.1% of its shots, its highest percentage in six games.

The Vandals also shot well – 49.2% – and the Eagles bemoaned their own lack of defensive intensity. But it was enough for Eastern to improve to 16-8 overall and 10-1 in Big Sky games, two games ahead of second-place Northern Colorado.

“I thought the crowd was great. Our guys were getting momentum offensively,” EWU head coach David Riley said.

“We didn’t necessarily have it defensively tonight, but I thought our guys really carried that well and played well offensively.”

EWU junior Ethan Price finished with 22 points, three shy of his season high, on 8-of-13 shooting from the field.

He had just one rebound but added four assists and a block.

“He was playing at all three levels, moving the ball really well,” Kyman said of Price. “When he’s open, he’s going to shoot that 3, and if they close out hard, he can get to the basket.”

Price demonstrated his ability to do both with 6 minutes to go in the game, when the Vandals rode an 8-0 run to cut EWU’s lead to 69-68.

After Cedric Coward made a layup and Idaho’s D’Angelo Minnis missed a 3, Price drove for a basket on Eastern’s next possession to get the lead back to 73-68. Next time down the court, Price hit a 3 from the wing over Idaho forward Kyson Rose to add to Eastern’s lead.

Idaho got back within two with 1:09 left when EJ Neal hit a corner 3 – part of his season-high 20 points – to make it 79-77.

But Kyman answered with a 3-pointer 13 seconds later. After that, Idaho was held scoreless until the game’s final 10 seconds as the Eagles made 5 of 6 free throws.

In addition to Neal, three other Vandals finished with at least 15 points: Rose had 15, Minnis 17 and Quinn Denker 19.

The Vandals (9-15, 3-8) came in on a two-game winning streak. They made 11 of 28 3-pointers and assisted on 20 baskets, second most of the season, their first under head coach Alex Pribble.

“They’re playing better basketball. You can see guys are getting used to playing with each other. They got a totally new group,” Riley said. “(Pribble) in his first year is trying to put in that culture, and you see they are doing better and better.”

Coward, a junior, had 15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and four blocks for the Eagles.

EWU senior Ellis Magnuson, who was honored pregame for becoming Eastern’s all-time leader in games played with 139, scored a season-high eight points and matched a season high with seven assists.

Eastern stays home this week, hosting Idaho State on Thursday and Weber State on Saturday.