PULLMAN – The Eastern Washington Eagles came out of the cold and got locked in the freezer Saturday night at Beasley Coliseum.
The Eagles missed 14 of their first 16 shots, including 9 of 10 from 3-point range, and had to heat up at garbage time to salvage a bit of respectability in an 88-69 blowout loss to Washington State.
The non-conference game, which drew 6,705 on Dad’s Weekend despite freezing temperatures, was the season opener for both teams.
The contest was part of the College Basketball Experience (CBE) Hall of Fame Classic. Four teams, including Washington State, automatically advance to the championship round Nov. 19-20 in Kansas City, Mo.
Eastern Washington trailed 39-20 at the half after shooting a frosty 21.6 percent from the field, including 15.8 percent on 3-pointers. WSU’s led by as many as 33 before the Eagles finally found the range from beyond the arc in the late going.
“Our guys deserve a lot of credit for the job they did the first 28, 30 minutes of the game defending the 3-point line,” Washington State coach Ken Bone said.
“We definitely let down near the end, yet Eastern showed what they’re capable of doing. Those kids can really shoot.”
The Eagles certainly hid that fact for much of the game. Eastern got hot at the end to finish 15-for-39 (38.5 percent) from beyond the arc.
“When they go in, we look good,” Eastern coach Jim Hayford said. “When they don’t, I look like an idiot.”
The Eagles shot just 34.7 percent from the field, and they sank 33.3 percent of their free throws. The Cougars shot 54.7 percent from the field and 65 percent at the line, and they outrebounded the smaller Eagles 47-34.
Eastern point guard Justin Crosgile led everyone with 28 points, but the Saint Joseph’s transfer had to bury a flurry of 3s in the closing minutes to finish 9-for-24 from the field.
Brock Motum topped the Cougars with 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting, and the senior forward grabbed 10 rebounds. Mike Ladd and Curtis graduate DaVonte Lacy both added 15 points. D.J. Shelton produced a game-high 12 rebounds, a highlight-reel dunk and six points to offset a game-high five turnovers (in just 20 minutes) and 1-for-6 shooting.
“In the first half, I think we executed really well on defense, and that led to some breakaway opportunities on offense,” Motum said.
“We moved the ball pretty well,” Ladd said. “We got guys open shots.”
The Cougars, who return to action Wednesday at home against Utah Valley (7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), improved to 43-0 at Beasley in November games. WSU has won five in a row over Eastern, and 22 of the past 23 meetings.