EWU has not won a game against WSU since 1952, and they just cannot seem to break the curse, falling again to WSU 69-88 on Nov. 10.
Coming into the game, Coach Jim Hayford felt ready to take on the challenge of competing against a Pac-12 team. The Pac-12 conference has always proved to be tough competition for EWU. Going into the Nov. 10 game, EWU had a 12-75 record against Pac-12 teams. With this losing record and the disappointing 49 to 75 loss to WSU last year, EWU expected to play the underdog role.
“Our players feel like we really let our fans down and ourselves down last year – we felt like that was maybe our worst game of the year,” Hayford said.
With four seniors graduated last year, the upperclassmen leadership this year became Collin Chiverton and Justin Crosgile. Chiverton played six minutes the entire game and Crosgile struggled from behind the arc.
Although he only made seven out of 17 three point attempts, Crosgile did lead the team in points with 28. Crosgile also led the team in assists. His 28 point performance is the best Eagle debut since 1983, beating Chiverton’s debut against Gonzaga last year by three points.
Hayford expressed pride in the determination Crosgile showed in continuously taking shots despite a slow start.
“What I love about him is that he kept competing and kept his chin up,” Hayford said “He knew he had a really poor first half, and he turned it around in the second half.”
Hayford also admired the offensive rebounds collected by his team. “We had 15 offensive rebounds, which shows me some hustle and pride.”
Although Crosgile was the only double digit scorer, Jordan Hickert was the second leading scorer with eight points. Hickert also logged two blocks within the first minute of play and four rebounds overall.
Despite the efforts of these two scorers, EWU ended the first half with only 20 points while WSU ended with 39. EWU was able to more than double their points during the second half, scoring 49 points. WSU scored the same 49 points, but the damage had already been done for EWU.
“That was the game we wanted to play: 49-49,” Hayford said. He went on to say that his goal was to leave the court with a 90-87 win. Great shooting would have been the key to achieving this goal. “If you are going to play that way you have to shoot well,” said Hayford.
Hayford believes the stronger second half shooting can become a foundation for the team. “We can build on that second half,” he said. “We did come back to compete and show pride.”
The difference in percentages for Eastern between the two halves are so drastic, they seem like they could come from two different teams.
21.6 percent was the field goal percentage for EWU during the first half. In comparison, the field goal percentage for the second half was 48.6 percent. The same dramatic increase can be seen in three point percentages. EWU was three for 19, 15.8 percent, from behind the arc in the first half. They ended the second half 12 for 20, at 60 percent.
Although this loss is a disappointing start to the six game streak of away games, Hayford has a plan to improve his team on the road. “We will do a lot of teaching,” he said. “We’ll just put them in the lab and start showing them. We’ll rest their bodies and test their minds.”
The Eagles’ home opener will be in Reese Court on Nov. 30 against Cal State Fullerton.