Sunday, February 5, 2012

EWU Eagles rally in the final 11 to beat the NAU Lumberjacks 74 to 68


The Eagles looked dismal in the first half going 8 of 23 from the floor.  They went 10 of 14 from the free throw line to keep the game close  going into the half trailer just 32-29.  The score didn’t reflect the brutally sloppy play of the Eagles in the first half.  The Lumberjacks came out in the second half and looked to bury the Eagles with a 7-1 run opening the score to their biggest lead of the night 39-30.  Things looked worse for the Eagles as they committed their tenth team foul of the half with nearly 11 minutes remaining in the half trailing by six 53-47.

Then Coach Hayford’s team rallied behind an amazing effort from Cliff Ederaine (#42) (11 points, 13 rebounds) and Parker Kelly (#10) (whose 4 of 4 free throws, 3pt jumper and 2pt field goal were the Eagles final 9 points of the game).  With 6:15 remaining and a slim 62-58 lead Durell Norman (11points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists) fouled out, and moments later Cliff drew the fifth foul from Ephraim Ekanem (15 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block).  

The Eagles ended up shooting 35% from the field including 9 of 24 from beyond the arc, but saved themselves with solid inside play and capitalizing from the free throw line eventually going 25 of 34.  This game was full of mental errors as the team took many bad shots and Collin Chiverton (#24) (4 of 15 from the field, 13 points) was ejected for elbowing one of the Lumberjacks during a time out.


Kelly shoots with poise against NAU
photo from goeags.com
The Eagles again got a big contribution from their bench with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.  Parker Kelly (11 points) and Jordan Hickert (8 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist) both made strong contributions.

After losing the rebounding battle in the first half the Eagles played a solid second half on the boards ending up with 36 rebounds for each team.  This game was clearly a story of two halves and you could see a glimmer of Coach Hayford’s vision for this team as they locked the Lumberjacks up and closed the game out scoring NAU 27 to 15.

“I’m really happy we could get a win down here,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford, whose team returns home to face red-hot Sacramento State on Saturday (Feb. 4). “They took Northern Colorado to overtime last week, and it’s scary to face a team as loose as Northern Arizona is right now. For us to be down by nine in the second half and win shows a lot of character. Things weren’t going our way, but our players kept battling.”