Monday, March 12, 2012

EWU Eagles Lose Big Sky Conference Semifinal to Montana 74-66

Cliff Colimon (#11) and the Eagles
gave Montana all they could handle
photo from
It’s been almost a week since the game and the Eagles have moved into the off season, and after a few days of relaxation I’m getting back into the swing of things here and thought I should start with the final post game review of the season.

The Eagles (8-8, 15-17) feel to the University of Montana (15-1, 25-6) by a score of 74-66 on Tuesday night in the Semi-Final round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.  The game was substantially closer than the 8 point difference in the score as the Eagles led 62-61 with less than 2 minutes remaining.  There were 9 lead changes and 3 ties in the second half of this contest before a series of Eagle turnovers and bad shots allowed Montana to pull away in the final 1:45.

Stay tuned after the break:

The Eagles shot 47.2% from the field and lost for the first time all season during a game in which they shot at least 45% from the field.  A big part of that was that they only shot 20% from beyond the arc.  Down the final stretch of the regular season the Eagles had ridden strong contributions from their bench players, specifically Parker Kelly (#10) and Tremayne Johnson (#20), but on Tuesday night the Eagles bench combined for just 37 minutes, 3 pts, 2 steals and 1 rebounds with 9 personal fouls and 2 turnovers.  Collin Chiverton (#24) had led the team in scoring for most of the season, but was shut out for the third time this season.

Cliff Colimon (#11) was his usual brilliant self as he led all scorers with 27 pts, adding 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal to cap his senior season.  Colimon averaged 25.6 pts per contest over the final three games including two Big Sky Tournament games.  Laron Griffin (#15) turned his 3rd straight double-double with 15 pts and 14 rebounds adding 3 blocks and 2 steals.  Laron averaged 18 pts and 12.3 rebounds per game over the final three games of the season including his career high 21 pts against Idaho State in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament.  Cliff Ederaine (#42) finished with 16 pts, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Jeffrey Forbes (#22) played one of the best defensive games though it won’t show up in a stat sheet, he held Montana’s Will Cherry to only five attempted shots in the second half.  Forbes finished the game with 5 pts, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.

For the Grizzlies, Junior Forward Matthias Ward (#40) was absolutely automatic from the free throw line going 12 of 12 to finish with 19 pts, 7 rebounds 1 assist and 1 block.  Sophomore Guard-Forward Kareem Jamar (#32) dazzled with 18 pts, 13 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block.  Junior Guard Will Cherry (#5) finished with 16 pts, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 1 block.  Senior Forward Derek Selvig (#24) scored 12 pts and added 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 rebounds and 1 steal.

Over all the game was a clash two very solid teams attacking the paint on both ends of the court.  Eastern again found itself surrendering too many trips to the free throw line and not earning enough of their own.  The Grizzlies, who went 27 of 32 from the free throw line, punished the Eagles for every foul and made their trips count.  the Eagles made their trips to the foul line count as well shooting 84.6%, but only took 13 free throws in the entire game.  The Eagles really gave Montana fits in the first half as they jumped out to a 35-30 lead, forcing 6 turnovers and committing just 3, but the Grizzlies turned that around and then some in the second half as the Eagles would commit 10 second half turnovers and force only 5.

Montana ended up beating Weber State in the Big Sky Tournament finals 85-66 and will square off with the University of Wisconsin Badgers (12-6 Big Ten, 24-9) on Thursday morning tip off is at 11:10am pst.  The Badgers are ranked #13 in the nation according to the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.