The ends were the same. The means to those ends in a pair of Reese Court games, however, were different.
Eastern Washington University’s men’s basketball team lost a pair of non-conference games this past week, 81-79 to the University of Idaho in overtime last Thursday and 75-69 to visiting Seattle University this past Monday.
In the loss to the Redhawks it was sour shooting that dropped Eastern’s season record to 2-7. Seattle U (3-3) shot 50 percent from the field, but the Eagles just 37 percent, a wimpy 6 of 27 from 3-point range and just 22 percent.
Against Idaho the downfall came on the boards as the Vandals out rebounded the Eagles 55-34, including an advantage of 21 on the offensive end. Ironically Eastern had some slightly better shooting Thursday, a similar 38.2 percent from the field but a much-improved 32.4 from 3-point range.
Junior Justin Crosgile led the Eagles with 15 points versus Seattle while freshman Venky Jois continued to live up to expectations finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds, his fifth double-double in the last six games.
Sophomore Parker Kelly came off the bench to score 14 but struggled from long-range, as did his teammates. Kelly, a reputable 3-point weapon, made just 1 of 8 3-pointers while seniors Jeffrey Forbes was 1 of 5 and Jordan Hickert 1 of 5.
“With this being a close game with us shooting the ball as poorly as we did I have to take some positives away from our defensive efforts,” head coach Jim Hayford said.
Seattle jumped out to an early 7-1 lead, but the Eagles responded to lead 15-9. The Redhawks took the lead for good with 9:05 left in the first half, and led 33-30 at intermission.
“This is a game we should have won, we’re a better shooting team than we showed tonight,” Hayford said.
The Redhawks would build their lead to 63-51 near the halfway point of the second half but an Eastern run shaved that margin to six. A turnover at the 15-minute mark with Seattle holding a 45-39 lead was a likely turning point Hayford said.
“I remember at one point we got it down to six, we made the steal and Venky (Jois) was coming down the court and Thomas (Reuter), he threw it to Thomas in the corner but Thomas cut to the basket,” Hayford explained. “ We score on that,” and he was left to wonder if the outcome might have been different.
Three players scored in double figures for Seattle, led by Chad Rasmussen with 16.
The Idaho game featured a pair of massive runs by each team. Part of a 19-0 Eastern run gave them a 34-33 halftime lead that they extended to 50-33 with 15:53 remaining. But Idaho’s 15-0 run and regained the lead 54-53 with 9:02 to play. Eastern went scoreless for 4:57 in that stretch.
In a back-and-forth finish Idaho took a five-point lead with 2:47 to play, but a basket by Jois and Crosgile’s 3 sent the game into overtime.
Crosgile’s 3-pointer gave Eastern a lead in overtime. But a jumper in the lane with 21 seconds left in OT by Mansa Habeeb gave the Vandals the win.
“It was a great basketball game between two very evenly-matched teams,” Hayford said. “I thought our team showed great character to force overtime.”
Crosgile scored 26 points, including eight 3-pointers. Jois had another double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore center Martin Seiferth added 10 points and three rebounds, while freshman forward Thomas Reuter chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Stephen Madison led the Vandals with 29 and 10 boards while lanky 6-foot-5-inch Kyle Barone had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Eastern now plays UC Davis at Dec. 17 before opening Big Sky Conference play at home when the Eagles will host Weber State Thursday, Dec. 20 then host Idaho State Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2:05 p.m.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.