Eastern Washington Sinks Belmont

November 26, 2019

Eastern Washington sank its final 10 free throws in the final 4:30 to propel the Eagles to an 87-82 over Belmont in the Gotham Classic finale for both teams.

Playing at home for the first time in three weeks, Eastern led for just 8:40 of the game, but was able to take the lead for good with 3:58 to play with an 8-0 run. Kim Aiken Jr. (pictured), scored eight of EWU’s last 12 points on his way to his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Six Eagles scored in double figures, as all nine players who saw action scored and had at least one rebound. The win helped EWU improve to 4-2, while the Bruins – a NCAA Tournament team a year ago – fell to 4-3.

“Our team came in and took advantage of our opportunity to play a team like that here at home,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans. “Belmont is a very well-coached team and a good basketball club. But tonight was our night – we played well and we played hard. We followed the game plan to a tee.”

Mason Peatling led the Eagles with 17 points, and Ellis Magnuson, Casson Rouse, Tanner Groves and, Jacob Davison also scored in double figures. Eastern sank 13-of-17 free throws in the game and had 10 3-pointers despite getting out-shot 53 percent to 51 percent and out-rebounded 35-32. Eastern held the Bruins to nine 3-pointers on 24 attempts for 37.5 percent in the game.

Eastern trailed early 7-0, but clawed back to knot the game at 40 just before halftime. Eastern took a 68-65 lead in the second half on a basket by Groves, then the game was tied at 75-all when Peatling made a pair of free throws.

That started an 8-0 run that included a basket by Aiken with 3:58 to play to take the lead for good. He also made two free throws with 3:18 left, two with 12 seconds remaining and the icing on the cake with a pair with 3.8 ticks on the clock. A missed front end of a one-plus-one free throw opportunity by the Bruins helped set-up the final four charity shots for Aiken.

Belmont’s Nick Muszynski led all scorers with 30 points. Tyler Scanlon netted 17 points and Adam Kunkel and Grayson Murphy scored 10 points apiece.

The Gotham Classic concludes Wednesday when Boston College hosts Saint Louis in the Showcase Game. The Billikens are 3-0 in the Gotham Classic while the host Eagles are 2-1.

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