Montana's Anthony Johnson goes in for a layup after a steal (Photo: KHQ)
CHENEY, Wash. - The Eagles now have some catching up to do. Eastern Washington fell to 3-4 in conference play Wednesday night, losing 63-50 to Montana at Reese Court.
Montana opened up a 15-point lead at halftime and never looked back. It didn't help that the Eagles shot a dismal 28 percent in the first half and just 31 percent in the second half.
"The one thing that I'm certain of is you can't shoot 31 percent and be 2-of-18 from beyond the arc, and 50-percent from the free throw line and win very many games," said head coach Kirk Earlywine after the game.
On the positive side, Eastern turned the ball over just 5 times.
Back to the dismal side of things, they were just 6-of-18 shooting from inside the paint. Earlywine said those numbers proved his team appears to have taken a step back, and not a step forward like he had hoped they would.
"It's a big loss," said forward Mark Dunn with a scowl on his face after the loss. "I mean, we came in tied for fourth with three or four other teams and we had a chance to move up in the rankings in the Big Sky, and we just couldn't get it done."
The loss means the Eagles slide from fourth to seventh place in the Big Sky. Montana holds onto fourth place, right behind Idaho State.
Junior Benny Valentine led the Eagles with 15 points, but shot just 5-of-17 from the field. He made just one three-point shot on 5 attempts.
Junior Mark Dunn added 14 points for the Eagles.
Eastern Washington's next games are on the road: Portland State (Jan. 24), Montana State (Jan. 29) and Montana again (Jan. 31).