KIRKLAND, Wash. – After leading 51-26 at the half, the EOU men's basketball team staved off a fierce Trinity Western comeback attempt in the second half to secure the 85-78 triumph Saturday evening at the Aldercrest Auto Rebuild Classic inside the NU Pavilion.
Sophomore guard Max McCullough led a trio of Mountaineers in double figure scoring finishing with 21 points, – 5-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half – five assists to go with five rebounds. Senior guard Brennan Pope nearly missed out on a double-double as he dropped 10 points and snagged nine boards, while senior guard/forward Blake O'Donnell recorded the game's only double-double with 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds coming off the bench.
On Trinity's Western side, four of its starting five scored in double digits. Vartan Tanielian netted a game-high 23 points, Max Vitala chipped in 15 points and five boards, Pogos Trunyan stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, six rebounds and tied a game-high dishing out five assists. Josiah Allison capped the game with 11 points.
The Mountaineers came out with the hot hand from beyond the arc in the opening nine minutes going 4-of-8 and were looking at a 10-point lead, 24-14, with 8:54 remaining in the period. McCullough proceeded to hit on his next three treys and back-to-back buckets in the closing minutes from O'Donnell and Pope gave EOU a 51-26 advantage at half.
The Spartans did not let the halftime deficit faze them and used the first 13 minutes to go on a torrid 32-6 run, bringing the lead down to four, 57-53. Over the next four minutes, buckets from Trunyan and Pogos made it a two-point contest, 63-61.
Down the closing stretch, TWU would get as close as three, 73-70 (5:06) as McCullough and O'Donnell combined for 12 points (six apiece) while the Mounties iced the game at the charity stripe going 5-of-6.
In total, EOU shot a cold 36.4-percent clip (12-of-33) in the second half, including 2-of-15 from three-point range, but were able to shoot 8-of-11(72.7 percent) from the free throw line to stay distant.
TWU Head Coach Aaron Muhic
"After being down 25 in the first half we can back in the second half to cut the score to 63-61. We played great defense in the second half. I am very proud of our defensive effort in the second half. We battled!"
EOU Head Coach Carlito Labarda Jr.
"We survived an avalanche size effort from Trinity Western in the second half. All in all, we are happy to come away with the win tonight to cap off the weekend, which makes the travel back home to La Grande much sweeter."
The Spartans will begin Canada West conference play in Edmonton against the Alberta Golden Bears Oct. 27. EOU hits the court Friday in Caldwell, Idaho to face Ottawa (Ariz.) as part of College of Idaho's 31st annual Taco Bell Shoot-Out. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.