It wasn't pretty but the Titans pull out the win with the help of some clutch shooting and EWU throwing up bricks in the second half. Here are the main reasons the Titans improved their record to 3-4:
Hey, I don't write them, I just hear them at games. Without Anthony Bolton's hot shooting from the outside, the Titans likely lose another ugly game of poor perimeter zone defense. However, Ant was in his own zone all night, going 5 for 7 from long distance and scoring a game-high 22 points. He also added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and zero fouls in 31 minutes. Just an outstanding performance for someone who started the season in a funk and has now had solid efforts in the past two games.
These two aren't bad either
Pape Sow's three point bomb late in the game was the biggest basket of the night for the Titans as they clung on to a one-point lead with three minutes left. He was dominant on the boards, grabbing 11 of them in 36 minutes. Still not at 100% with a leg injury, he sucked it up and had a very good game. He was also getting hammered underneath all night but the referees seem to think he is Shaq so no calls were made. This is something the coaches are going to have to work out with the referees before games as he is not being treated fairly on both ends of the court.
Point guard Bobby Brown continues to amaze as he scored 19 points (3-4 on 3-pointers), dished out 7 assists and had only 1 turnover. Yanked early for missing a defensive assignment, he came back to have another excellent offensive and defensive (4 steals) night. Brown's timing is impeccable. Whenever we desperately need a hoop, he delivers. This guy has no conscience and we are running out of adjectives in describing his game.
Already we are hearing rumors of schools trying to steal him away, and if true, this is where our AD should put a stop to it all. Tampering with our future should not be tolerated. This is a perfect fit for LB and he can do great things for this university, but enough of this talk as we still have a long ways to go this year.
Eagles gone cold
EWU has struggled all year long in the second half and this game was no different. After hitting 8 of 14 three's in the first half, the Eagles were only able to make 3 of 16 in the second. I would love to credit coaching adjustments or tighter defense, but this is simply not the case. The Eagles had just as many good looks in the second half as they did in the first.
The Titans played 40 minutes of zone and EWU had numerous wide open looks on just about every possession. Certainly Eagles head coach Ray Giacoletti was not impressed:
"We can't turn the ball over 17 times against 40 minutes of zone, and we can't give up 13 offensive rebounds," Giacoletti continued. "Nothing more needs to be addressed ... It's a 2-3 zone -- they aren't doing anything crazy out of it or trapping very much. There is no pressure there and you have to make good decisions with the basketball."
One has to wonder why the Titans were playing zone in the first place as, if ever there was a team to play man-to-man, this was it. The Titans were much more athletic at every position and EWU was an excellent outside shooting team.
You almost got the feeling this was a statement game by Titans head coach Bob Burton: We'll play zone even if it kills us so you had better learn to play it right.
A gamble that seemed to pay off. It also limited leading scorer Alvin Snow to a season-low 4 points so they must have been doing something right. Of all the players being left wide open all night, Snow was rarely one of them. Maybe the coaches do know more than the fans ... nah.
Anytime you beat a team projected to finish near the top of their conference, it's a good thing, even if that conference is the Big Sky. The Titans will face Occidental on Saturday, after a week of finals, and then play a hot Loyola Marymount team, which just lost in overtime to UCLA, on Tuesday to finish up their out-of-conference schedule.
Occidental is a nice tune-up game before facing LMU. Without knowing too much about LMU, it appears they are a solid team with some decent coaching and the Titans will need to play much better on the defensive side to end up with that coveted 5-4 record heading into conference play.