Vandal men fall at home to Eastern Washington

They knew coming in their opponent was going to be good -- very good, it turns out – but there was seemingly nothing the Vandal men could do to slow down the Eastern Washington Eagles in Memorial Gym Wednesday night as the Eagles defeated the Vandals 73-66 in a game that was not as close as the final score might indicate.

Eastern came in with a 3-2 record including eight-point season opening loss at Gonzaga (where the Zags won in part by sinking 36 of 51 free throws) and another eight-point loss at Oregon. In between the Eagles pounded Hawaii 89-72 on the Island and UC Davis 79-59 in Cheney.

The game Wednesday was decided in the first half with Eastern shooting lights-out from three-point range (8 of 16) racing out to a 27-7 lead with 8:54 remaining in the first half.

Down by 14 at the half, Idaho had one look at the game. They started to control the tempo and tightened their defense. A Vandal scoring run started with a three by Stephen Madison off an assist from Landon Tatum. 40 seconds later Djim Bandoumel brought the crowd of 1,057 to its feet with an electrifying slam dunk off a pass from Tatum. The momentum change continued 15 seconds later when Bandoumel swatted down an EWU layup attempt setting off a fast break that ended when Tatum dished to Madison for another three prompting an EWU time out.

However, the Vandals suddenly started to sputter offensively. They got four consecutive defense stops against the Eagles but missed two three-point tries, a layup and turned the ball over once at the other end of the floor. EWU then regained its outside shooting touch for an 8-0 run of its own and the Vandals never seriously threatened again although they did close the final gap to seven.

Idaho shot 43.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line, but gave up a 41.9 percent overall clip to the Eagles and allowed an opponent season-high 13 made 3-pointers. EWU also out-rebounded Idaho by a 37-33 margin, including offensive boards that turned into 16 second-chance points.

Junior center Kyle Barone led Idaho with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Tatum (a senior guard), junior Mansa Habeeb and Madison (sophomore) each added 10 points for the Vandals.

Eastern was led by a pair of 13-point performances from Cliff Colimon and Cliff Ederaine, while Jordan Hickert came off the bench to add 12. Forward Laron Griffin led all players with 10 rebounds for the Eagles.

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