Friday, February 17, 2012

EWU Eagles rally in the second half to defeat the UNC Bears 79-76


In a showdown for 6th place in the Big Sky, Eastern Washington (6-7, 12-14) and Northern Colorado (5-6, 8-17) showed their promise and their flaws.  Their second game was every bit as exciting as the first, a 71-70 Bears victory on January 14th, that snapped an Eagles 2 game winning streak.  On Wednesday night the Eagles held the lead for a total of 4 minutes and 33 seconds, including the final 14 seconds.  They trailed Northern Colorado by ten or more for 13 minutes and 5 seconds, including a high of 17 points with 17:08 remaining in the second half.

Northern Colorado dominated the first half by shooting 16 of 35 from the field including 7 of 11 from three point range.  The Bears forced 11 first half turnovers and gave up only 5, and won the rebounding battle 20 to 16 to take a huge lead (43-29) into the half.

Cliff Colimon (#11) lead the Eagles
to victory
photo from goeags.com
Despite a daunting deficit and time ticking away, Coach Hayford and the Eagles never quit.  Collin Chiverton (#24) had been on the worst three game stretch as an Eagle, having scored only 20 points combined in those games, came alive and sparked an 8-4 run that got the Eagles to within 14.  Chiverton finished with 19 points 1 rebound and 2 blocks on the game, with 14 points coming in the second half, including a big 3 point shot with 2:24 remaining that brought the Eagles to within one 72-71.

Chiverton’s late three set the Eagles up to take the lead for the first time since the frist five minutes of the first half.  It was true Freshman Parker Kelly (#10) who delivered the lead with a 3 pointer, his second of the night.  The Bears would battle back and retake the lead 76-75 on a pair of Mike Proctor free throws with 25 seconds remaining.  It would have been very easy for the Eagles to fall apart having just fallen short of another huge comeback.  But Kelly had other plans and with 14 seconds remaining he hit his second lead taking 3 pointer of the night.  Kelly finished with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.

Laron Griffin (#15) fouled out, for the tenth time this season, with 2:37 remaining, but not before he amassed 10 pts, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block.  Cliff Ederaine (#42) logged 9 pts, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1 steal.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the night for EWU was turned in by Cliff Colimon (#11) who tirelessly battled through out, scoring 12 of the Eagles 29 first half points.  Cliff finished with game highs in points (22) rebounds (9) and assists (9).  He also added one steal and was called for only one personal foul.  In the final 2:24, the Eagles made three field goals, all from 3 pt range and each came off an assist from Colimon.

Tate Unruh (#15) was impressive in
a close game vs  EWU
photo from uncbears.com
For Northern Colorado, Center Connor Osborne (#34) finished with 17 pts, 7 rebounds (6 offensive) and 1 steal.  Guard Tate Unruh (#15) finished with 16 pts (including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc) 5 rebounds and 1 steal.  Guard Paul Garnica (#3) came off the bench for 14 pts, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.  Freshman Guard Tevin Svihovec (#5) ended a 14 game streak with at least ten points (including a 12 pt 1 rebound and 1 assist effort against the Eagles) finishing with 9 pts, 7 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds.

Next up both teams will play non-conference match ups as part of the Sears ESPN Bracketbuster.  Eastern travels to UC Irvine to battle the Anteaters, while the Bears host the Cal Poly Mustangs both games are on Saturday night.