It was a rough night for the Big Sky.
Three teams played, and while it was not a shock that they all may lose, there were not really even any moral victories on this night.
Portland State played a solid Oregon team and got off to a rough start in Eugene. A sloppy first half had them down by as many as 20 points midway through the first half, and they trailed 51-33 at the break.
"I think we were a little shell shocked from their pressure and quickness," said Viking Coach Tyler Geving. "We didn't handle it very well. We had 10 turnovers in the first nine minutes but after that we settled down. But you can't put yourself in that situation.
"It was a combination of bad shots and turnovers giving them 51 points (in the first half)."
Oregon was pressuring hard right from the get go, and PSU was playing into their hands with a lot of bad passes and turnovers. Of course, it's tough to stop them on the other end when the opponent is shooting 7/10 from downtown, which is how Oregon started the game. However, even when PSU was able to get into their half-court offense, they did too much standing around, which is how you get 6 assists compared to 15 turnovers on the night.
PSU settled down in the second half, making the final score a respectable 80-69. Renado Parker and Gary Winston each had 15 points to lead the Vikings. The second half should give them something to build on.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Jack Murphy playing at UNLV, but the Lumberjacks were not treated nicely. They were already thin, with starter Gaellen Bewernick having tweaked his ankle against Oregon, and things didn't really get much better. Stallon Saldivar did not play in the second half with an injury, and Ephraim Ekanem reportedly hurt his hand as well.
The lack of depth, combined with a second game in three days, mixed with a UNLV team that is pretty darn athletic and talented made for a long evening for NAU. UNLV won 92-54. http://www.goviks.com/news/2012/11/12/MBB_1112124702.aspx scored 16 for NAU to lead the team, getting to the free throw line 10 times.
Here was the heigh of NAU's starting lineup:
Ephraim Ekanem - 6'7''
Michael Dunn - 6'0''
Gabe Rogers - 6'2''
Stallon Saldivar - 6'0''
DeWayne Russell - 5'11''
Fortunately for the Lumberjacks, there are no teams like UNLV in the Big Sky.
Eastern Washington had arguably the most winnable game of the night in the conference, but they came out flat against CS Northridge, losing 96-79.
They turned the ball over a whopping 22 times, which simply can't happen for them. They were 7/21 from downtown, and it will be tough for them to win a lot of games if they shoot 33% from downtown.
Justin Crogsile had a seemingly nice stat line with 18 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, but he did it on 6/18 shooting (2/8 from downtown) and had 9 turnovers. There was a sequence where he carelessly threw the ball away, and then jogged back down the court only to watch the Matadors knock down a three. It seemed to be that way a lot all night for EWU, and I didn't like their body language in this game. They may have been tired from playing their second game in three days. The Matadors had a whopping 23 offensive rebounds in the game, which is simply not acceptable.
It should be noted that big man Martin Seiferth was a star for EWU on this night. He scored 27 points, had 17 rebounds, and 7 blocks for the Eagles. He was outstanding, but unfortunately, he didn't have a lot of help in this game.
I am in a "Big Sky West Challenge" with Mountain West Connection and Big West Confidential... and safe to say, things are off to an ugly start.
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