Vandal Men Fall In Tough Battle at EWU

Idaho (3-2) lost on the road yesterday 62-67, falling to a talented EWU team (5-2) who earlier this season knocked off San Diego State (last year's MWC champ) on the road. For the second game in a row for Idaho, junior forward <b>Tyrone Hayes</b> recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds on the night.

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Idaho Official Site summary & stats

Idaho jumped out to a 29-26 halftime lead, but could not hold off an early 3rd quarter EWU run, losing the game in Cheney, Washington by a final score of 67-62 in front of 2,052 Eagle fans. In addition to what is becoming some impressive, consistent play by Hayes, junior center Jack May had his best game of the season with 12 points, 4 rebounds (3 defensive), 2 assists and 1 blocked shot. Sophomore point guard Tanoris Shepard also had a solid game, leading Idaho with 18 points on the night (2 of 4 from behind the 3-point arc), 2 defensive rebounds and an assist.

Next up for Idaho is another tough road game at Montana (Dec 12th). Montana (2-5) has struggled a bit this season, but they've been playing a fairly rugged schedule that has included losses to Gonzaga (67-75) and Michigan State (60-80). As always, they'll be ready to play. However, we're confident Coach Leonard Perry will have the team ready for what should be a good game in Missoula. After the Montana game, Idaho heads home for 3 consecutive home games, starting with Boise State on December 14th.

Below is an article that appeared in today's edition of the Spokesman Review, which covers Washington State, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Idaho athletics.

Resilient Eagles survive Vandals' late rally
Eastern Washington defeats Idaho after 10-point lead in second half nearly disappears

Joe Everson

When two basketball teams which pride themselves on playing nasty, in-your-face defense oppose each other, the result probably will not be a beauty contest.

But as Eastern Washington University coach Ray Giacoletti might have observed after the Eagles escaped Reese Court Saturday night with a 67-62 victory over Idaho, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

After trailing for almost 19 minutes of the first half, the Eagles went on an 18-5 run after the break and held off a furious Idaho offensive effort which gave the Vandals a chance to tie in the last 11 seconds of the game.

The win gave EWU a 5-2 record and dropped Idaho to 3-2. Two of the Vandals' victories came against Pac-10 teams -- Oregon State, in overtime, and Washington State.

"Idaho plays hard, and they really buy into playing defense," said Giacoletti after the win. "That's a really good win for us at this point in the season. They've beat two Pac-10 teams.

"The goals we set for ourselves for every game are limiting our turnovers to six a half and holding our opponents to 60 points a game," he continued. "Tonight, we came pretty close."

The Eagles got big second-half efforts from Chris Hester, redshirt transfer Brendon Merritt, and forward Keith Browne, each of whom scored 10 points after intermission. But Giacoletti was impressed with EWU's balance, and the Eagles' composure as Idaho stormed back from a 46-36 deficit with 9:56 to play.

Until then, Eastern had made a strong defensive effort against Idaho's two leading scorers, small forward Tyrone Hayes and guard Tanoris Shepard. But in the last 7:42, those two scored the Vandals' final 24 points. Hayes, who made only one of his first 10 shots, hit two long 3-pointers in the last 26 seconds, including an off-balance fadeaway that cut EWU's lead to 63-62 with 16 seconds left.

The Vandals fouled right away after that basket, and after EWU's Marc Axton hit both free throws, Shepard's try for a tie with 5 seconds left was off the mark. Merritt made two more FTs for Eastern with a second left.

Anyone within earshot of the Idaho locker room after the defeat knew how badly Vandals coach Leonard Perry wanted this one, but he was composed as he discussed Idaho's failure to hold onto its first-half lead.

"Right now, we don't always deal with success very well," he said. "When we had a chance to do what we needed to do, we broke down defensively, fouled at the wrong times, gave up too many second shots. . . We're a long way from being where we need to be."

Idaho's defense had held opponents to 35 percent shooting in the Vandals' first four games, but EWU hit 52 percent in the second half, although the Eagles made only 2 of 11 3-point attempts in the game. After a hot start that gave them a 10-2 lead, the Vandals hit 41 percent from the field.

Shepard was the game's leading scorer with 18 points. Merritt led Eastern with 16 points. Hester had 12 and Browne 10.

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