Mustangs hope to end slide against undefeated Eagles

Nov 22, 2014 - 4:03 PM Dallas, TX ( - The SMU Mustangs will try to put the brakes on a two-game slide when they return home to tangle with the undefeated Eastern Washington Eagles in non-conference action on Saturday.

At 3-0, Eastern Washington is off to its best start since the 1997-98 season, and it is looking to begin a campaign 4-0 for the first time since 1985-86. The Eagles are flying away from home for the first time tonight, after defeating the likes of Texas Southern (86-62), Utah Valley (75-50) and Walla Walla (95-34) at home -- not exactly top-flight competition.

Larry Brown's SMU squad began the season with so much hope, and it appeared the 22nd-ranked Mustangs would ride fast and furious through the competition after blasting Lamar at home in the opener, 93-54. But then came back-to-back trips to Gonzaga (72-56) and Indiana (74-68), both of which resulted in setbacks. The Ponies are hoping a little home cooking cures what's ailing them, as this bout marks the first of seven straight they will play at Moody Coliseum.

This game represents the first meeting between EWU and SMU on the hardwood.

Walla Walla, an Independent school at the NAIA level, barely put up a fight against the Eagles earlier in the week, as the visitors shot just 23.3 percent from the floor, missing 75 percent of their 3-point attempts along the way. As for EWU, it made good on a blistering 72.5 percent of its total shots (breaking a 40-year old school record for FG percentage), which included the draining of 10-of-18 long-range launches. The Eagles also dominated the glass to the tune of a 37-12 rebounding advantage. Jorg Frederik scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the team in both departments, and four others finished in double figures in the scoring column as well. Jois Venky contributed 17 points, seven assists and five boards.

While it's still early, the fact that five players currently average double digits for the Eagles is promising for the challenges that lay ahead. Tyler Harvey (18.3 ppg) and Venky (17.3 ppg) are the two most potent offensive threats, while Drew Brandon (9.0 rpg) and Venky (7.0 rpg) rule the boards. Brandon and Harvey are more than just scorers though, as they combine for 10.7 apg.

SMU shot 56.9 percent from the floor compared to just 36.2 percent by Indiana, but a 20-5 deficit in points from the foul line, and 19 costly turnovers proved too much to overcome as the Mustangs fell for the second straight time. Ben Moore paced the Ponies with 16 points and he pulled down seven rebounds, while Nic Moore added 13 points and six assists, and Sterling Brown chipped in with 11 points, nine boards and five helpers.

Ben Moore has been the one constant for Brown's squad during the first week of the season, as he is averaging 16.3 points and 8.0 caroms per contest. Cannen Cunningham (10.0 ppg) is the only player currently netting double figures, although Nic Moore (9.7 ppg, 5.3 apg) is close to joining them, and he has been the team's primary playmaker as well. As a collective unit, the Mustangs are shooting just shy of 50 percent from the field, but have been guilty of more turnovers than the opposition (-3.0).

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!