From staff reports
GREELEY, Colo. – Powered by a career-high 23 points from sophomore Ethan Price, the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team beat the Northern Colorado Bears 83-75 on Thursday night .
The Eagles’ victory avenged a loss to the Bears in last season’s Big Sky Tournament and improved their record this season to 7-0 in conference play and 13-7 overall. They have won nine straight games.
For the fourth time in their past five games, the Eagles made more than half their shots, hitting 60% (33 of 55) against the Bears. The majority of their points – 50 – came in the paint.
Price was efficient, making 9 of 11 shots – including 2 of 3 3-point attempts – and 3 of 5 free-throw attempts.
“He had his way down low,” EWU coach David Riley said of Price in a postgame radio interview. “When he’s able to get deep positions and go toward the rim, he’s got an amazing touch down there.”
The Bears led by as many as five points in the first half before the Eagles surged ahead for a 39-35 halftime lead. Eastern led the rest of the game.
With 2 minutes to go, the Bears’ Matt Johnson II made a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 72-66. But on the next possession, Tyreese Davis found Price for an uncontested 3 that pushed the Eagles’ advantage back to nine. Eastern made 6 of 8 free throws after that to secure the victory.
Sophomore Steele Venters scored 15 points for Eastern, his eighth straight game in double figures, and Davis made 4 of 5 shots on his way to 12 points.
The senior trio of Dalton Knecht (23 points), Daylen Kountz (21) and Johnson (18) accounted for all but 13 of UNC’s points as the Bears dropped to 1-6 in conference play and 6-13 overall.
One of the best 3-point shooting teams in the Big Sky, the Bears made 12 of 30 to keep them in the game.
“We’ve got to do a little better job, especially in the first half, not letting them get hot from 3,” Riley said. “That’s a really good-shooting team. They make some tough shots, and they make them look easy.”
The Eagles committed nine turnovers, their fewest in the past 15 games, and assisted on 19 of their baskets.
Off to its first 7-0 start to Big Sky play, Eastern plays at Northern Arizona (5-15, 1-6) at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Lumberjacks lost to the Idaho Vandals, 88-83, on Thursday.