There was not a moment in Idaho State’s 87-73 loss to Eastern Washington where the Bengals were ever in the game.
It took just 11 seconds for the Eagles to drain its first 3-pointer as Tyler Harvey found himself wide open in the corner.
Made threes was a recurring theme Thursday as Harvey and Parker Kelley combined to go 11-for-19 from beyond the arc.
“They beat our zone to death,” ISU head coach Bill Evans said. “That is only the second time all year that someone had run us out of the zone and we had to get out of it, we could not stop them.”
“It was a night were everything they shot was going in and anything they missed they put back,” ISU junior forward Andre Hatchett said. “They shot 54 percent from the 3-point line. You are not going to beat anyone when you let them shoot that much.”
In the game’s opening nine minutes, the Eagles made six 3-pointers, five of which came from Harvey. Evans was forced to call a timeout as ISU found itself in a 25-7 hole.
“Eastern Washington shoots a whole bunch of threes,” Evans said. “I told our guys that they would shoot about 30, and I was hoping that they would only make seven. We called early timeouts because we were just trying to change the tempo. We wanted to get them stopped.”
“The beat us up,” Hatchett said. “We are by no means a good or even average man-to-man team. They made us go to our weakness and exploited us.”
As has been the case, the Bengals surged as Melvin Morgan and Hatchett led a 14-7 run to cut the deficit to 13, but that was as close as the Bengals would ever get.
“Every time we started putting together a run, they ran off one of their own,” Hatchett said. “They shot 50 percent all the way across the board. There was no way we could answer that.”
ISU had chances to cut the deficit down to possibly single digits, but the team suffered by far its worst free throw shooting game of the season.
The Bengals went 2-for-13 from the foul line in the first half. Hatchett alone went 0-6.
“I am going to take a lot of (accountability) on the free throw side,” Hatchett said. “Me shooting that bad maybe had put us in a slump as a team. But for whatever reason we struggled shooting free throws.”
“We did not make any free throws in the first half,” Evans said. “Let’s say we made 10 instead of two, it’s a different game. The score would be 87-81 if we made 10, that’s not too much to ask.”
ISU trailed 42-29 at halftime.
Eastern’s 3-point barrage continued in the second half, but instead of Harvey finding a way to get open it was Parker Kelly.
The sophomore from Spokane went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc on his way to a career-high 28 points.
“Defensively, tonight we were horrible,” Evans said. “Tonight was the worst defense we have played in a conference game all season. We gave them too much comfort. They were to comfortable at both ends of the floor. We did not put very much pressure on them defensively and from our perspective offensively, we were 7-of-21 from three, which is barely adequate.”
With such a large size advantage over ISU, Eastern used it to get baskets in the paint. At times the physical play seemed to bother both players and coaches. It also resulted in Evans picking up his first technical foul as ISU’s head coach.
While the technical did upset the 1,873 fans in Holt Arena, it had no effect on the outcome of the game.
Hatchett led the Bengals (5-24, 4-15 Big Sky) with a career-high 20 points.
“I don’t really care if I score six or if I score 40, I just want to win,” Hatchett said. “The 20 points I had don’t mean anything. We got beat down. I am not going to go home and be happy with 20. I’d rather score zero and win.”
Morgan added 19 points and Chris Hansen scored 17.
Kelly led the Eagles (10-20, 7-12) with 28.
The Bengals will say goodbye to five seniors Saturday night when they take on Portland State in Holt Arena.
“I told the guys after the game to show up at 5:45 tomorrow and be ready to get after it,” Evans said.
The Bengals and Vikings tipoff at 7 p.m. Saturday in Holt Arena.