The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team came one 3-pointer from a school record, but EWU couldn’t do much on the inside and fell to UC Davis 87-65 as the Eagles closed out their pre-conference schedule Monday (Dec. 17) in Davis, Calif.
Eastern fell behind 10-0 and came no closer than four the rest of the way. The Eagles made 17-of-41 3-point attempts for 42 percent, but was just 3-of-19 inside the arc for 16 percent. As a result, UC Davis out-scored Eastern inside the paint 40-4.
“Our offensive balance is distorted as those stats show,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “We are going to have to have our (inside) guys really keep their confidence.”
Now 2-8, the loss was Eastern’s third-straight heading into the start of Big Sky Conference play later this week. The Eagles host Weber State on Thursday (Dec. 20) at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time, then host Idaho State two days later at 2:05 p.m.
The Aggies are now 2-6, including five losses by nine points or less. Both of their victories have come against Big Sky foes, having defeated Sacramento State from the Big Sky Conference 87-76 on the road on Nov. 20.
Sophomore Parker Kelly out of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane equaled his career high with 17 points to pace the Eagles, making 5-of-8 3-point shots. Junior Justin Crosgile scored 15 and freshman Thomas Reuter added 10.
“We received some really good play from Parker,” said Hayford. “I was really pleased with that.”
But Eastern’s inside duo of 6-foot-10 sophomore Martin Seiferth and 6-7 freshman Venky Jois combined to make just 2-of-10 shots from the field and finish with nine points. Jois, the leading rebounder in the Big Sky, had a game-high 12 boards for EWU.
Eastern’s 17 3-pointers were one behind the school record of 18 set on Dec. 4, 2010, against New Hope. Eastern had a record 48 3-point attempts on Jan. 19, 1995, versus Sacramento State.
“There are ways to balance that,” explained Hayford of his team’s inside-outside discrepancy. “When you make 17 3-pointers and convert 42 percent, that does spread the defense out. We went inside but we weren’t able to make those shots pay off.”
The Eagles were out-rebounded 40-36, and had 13 turnovers compared to just four for the Aggies. UC Davis had no turnovers in the second half and had a 19-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
“There are other things we need to fix,” said Hayford. “We didn’t take care of the ball and had some turnovers in the second half.”
After taking the 10-0 lead, a 12-0 Aggie run helped push the lead to 26-6. Eastern used 3-pointers by Crosgile, Reuter and Kelly to pull within 36-32, but the Eagles trailed 40-32 at intermission.
In the second half, Eastern could come no closer than six and UC Davis led by as many as 25.
“These are games we are going to learn from,” added Hayford. “We did a good job recovering from that big early hole. In that stretch we played pretty well.”
Tyler Les, who had scored just 18 points in his first six games this season, led the Aggies with 18 versus the Eagles. Josh Ritchart added 14 as five players from UC Davis scored in double figures.
Eastern played the Aggies a year ago in Hayford’s debut season. Thanks to a 19-1 run in the second half, the Eagles won the first-ever meeting between the two schools 79-59 in Cheney.