Eastern Eagles edge Idaho in rivalry showdown

Eastern Washington will not play Florida Sept. 5 after the SEC goes conference-only
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Eastern Washington Eastern Washington will not play Florida Sept. 5 after the SEC goes conference-only

MOSCOW, Idaho — In a game that featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes – most of them coming in the second half – the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team survived to beat Idaho 78-75 in a Big Sky Conference game on Thursday (Dec. 16) at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.

Eastern’s Kim Aiken Jr.Ellis Magnuson and Jacob Davison combined for 53 points, but it was a 3-pointer by junior Jack Perry on a pass from Magnuson with 10.4 seconds remaining that finally gave EWU the lead for good. Eastern closed out the scoring with free throws by Aiken Jr. and Davison in the final four seconds, Davison’s after a steal that all but clinched the win.

“We battled and we didn’t give up,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans. “We lost on the boards by 10 and you can’t do that – especially on the road. But we made big plays and made big shots. We made 12 3-pointers and shot the ball pretty well. We got it inside and moved the ball around, and finished with 19 assists. When we played that way we were playing pretty good.”

Aiken Jr. had 18 points, eight rebounds and a team-leading six assists, and the sophomore scored 12 of his points in the second half. Magnuson, a true freshman from Boise, Idaho, had 11 of his season-high 16 points in the second half. Davison, a junior, scored nine in the first half and eight in the second half to finish with 17 points and three steals.

Eastern jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and led by as many as nine in the first half at 15-6. Eastern shot at an early 58 percent clip, but went cold and let the Vandals go on a run. Idaho eventually led 26-22 before EWU regained a 35-31 advantage at intermission.

Davison scored nine points in the first half to lead the Eagles, who had five 3-pointers to one for the Vandals. Eastern had a slight 43 percent to 41 percent shooting edge, but were out-rebounded 21-16.

Eastern went on a run in the second half, and a pair of 3-pointers by Magnuson gave EWU its biggest lead of the night at 49-39 with 13:36 to play. But the Eagles went nearly six minutes without a field goal, and a 12-0 Idaho run gave the Vandals a short-lived 51-49 lead.

Aiken hit 3-pointers at the 7:43 and 6:08 marks to give EWU a 59-55 lead. But Idaho rallied again and then the two squads traded punches. There were eight ties and six lead changes in the second half alone.

Eventually, a 3-pointer by Eastern junior Jack Perry gave EWU a 76-74 lead with 10.4 seconds to play.

Two of the Big Sky’s top five individual scorers were on display Thursday, including Idaho’s Trevon Allen (19.3, second), and Eastern’s Jacob Davison (17.40, fourth). Including Eagles Kim Aiken Jr. (15.8, ninth) and Mason Peatling (15.2, 11th), the totals are four of the top 11. In league games only, all four players rank in the top 12 – Allen (20.3, second), Aiken (16.3, ninth), Davison (15.8, 12th) and Peatling (15.8, 12th).

Allen finished with 23 points to lead the Vandals against EWU.