This past weekend both Evergreen basketball teams put up tough fights against visiting College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon, despite dropping both games, each. Together, the teams were decked out in pink warm-up shirts in support of cancer awareness.
The Lady Geoducks kicked off the weekend on Friday January 25 with a tough game against the #17 nationally-ranked team Idaho Lady Coyotes (#2 overall in the Cascade Conference). The Geoducks fought back from an initial 11-point deficit at the midway point of the first period, going into halftime down five points after giving up a jumper at the buzzer. The first half was highlighted by some of the Geoducks’ best defensive rotations of the season, as highlighted by the ‘Yotes being held to just 26 points in the half.
Though Evergreen got some great performances in the second half, highlighted by forward Danielle Swain and guard Jessica Denmon combining for 24 of the team’s 31 points in the period, the Geoducks were unable to narrow the gap beyond that. The final score was 63-52.
Later that night, the men’s teams squared off in a game that lacked intense defense but made up for it in excitement. Though the Geoducks shot a better percentage in the first half, the ‘Yotes managed to maintain an at times narrow lead through its proficiency at hitting the long ball, making an incredible eight shots from beyond the arc. Evergreen managed to keep the score respectable behind a blazing first half by freshman guard Frankie Johnson, who contributed 15 points in the period on his way to a career-high 24.
Though the Geoducks’ perimeter defense shored up in the second half, holding College of Idaho to just two three-pointers, the ‘Yotes began to get more easy baskets while capitalizing off of some sloppy turnovers by Evergreen. Even with the Geoducks pulling within three points of the ‘Yotes early in the second half, Idaho eventually ran up the score to a final difference of 78-89.
The next night, Eastern Oregon trotted in its highly ranked teams, the men’s team being the top ranked in the country and the women’s team ranked 5th. The women’s teams went up first Saturday night, trying to halt Eastern Oregon’s 15-game win streak.
With six lead changes and four ties over the course of the game, the Geoducks gave the Mounties almost everything they could handle. In a strong defensive matchup, the lead teetered back and forth over the course of the first half. It wasn’t until the last 2:30 of the first half that the Mounties went on a six-point run to take a five-point lead into the half.
In the second half the Mounties managed to hold onto that lead in spite of Evergreen guard Sadee Jones leading all scorers in the second half with eight points. The Mounties escaped with a 45-50 win to take their streak to 16 games.
In the second game, the men’s team got off to a good start against the top-ranked Mounties. The Geoducks started off solid, tying the game halfway through the first period 13-13 off of a three-pointer by forward Cody Peters. The Mounties came roaring back outscoring Evergreen 26-13 for the final 11 minutes of the first period.
During the second half the Geoducks’ offense started to take off. Junior forward Marc Taylor was dominant on the low block in the final period, scoring 10 points using a variety of moves to confuse the Mounties’ pivot defenders. Frankie Johnson had another strong game, scoring 21 points, 13 of which came in the second half. The only problem that the offense faced was an inability to draw many fouls. The Geoducks were outscored 43-41 in the second half, but attempted two foul shots to the Mounties’ eighteen.
Though Eastern Oregon prevailed 67-82, the Geoducks have a silver lining in how well its offense measured up against the best team in the second half of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II.
By David Lukashok