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Eastern pushes to 7-0

Stefone Richardson had 14 points off the bench as Eastern won, 126-99, against Nation Wide Academy. (Photo from earlier season game)
Stefone Richardson had 14 points off the bench as Eastern won, 126-99, against Nation Wide Academy. (Photo from earlier season game)
By Corey Stolzenbach, McAlester News-Capital


Scott Edgar knew what was in store for his team on Saturday night.

Eastern Oklahoma State College welcomed Nation Wide Academy to the Dunlap Field House, with the Mountaineers (7-0) and Bengals engaging in a game with a mostly competitive score. Eastern prevailed, 126-99, but it was a single digit game well into the second half.

"I knew that they were good," Edgar said, also praising Nation Wide head coach Kenny Roy. "…This is by far the biggest margin we've beat them. It's usually a game that's decided in the last three minutes. That's how good his (Roy's) teams have been."

The Mountaineers held a 56-48 lead at halftime. It wasn't until less than 11 minutes remaining in the second half that Eastern consistently maintained a double-digit lead. Talihina alumnus Kariim Byrd dished a pass to G'Quavious Lennox, who buried a shot from deep to make it an 87-75 game.

Shooting 3-pointers was something that allowed the Mountaineers to separate themselves from the Bengals. Eastern was 11-for-30 from beyond the arc. Sometimes the 3-point shooting helped create some extra breathing room. Jace Pratt knocked one down that gave Eastern a 78-71 advantage, and the Mountaineers used the shots from deep to help them out in a competitive first half.

Eastern and Nation Wide traded buckets in the early going. Elisha Hobbs, who had a team-high 28 points, began the game at the free throw line. A technical foul had been called against the Bengals for dunking during the pregame after the referees came out on the court. Hobbs sank the free throw, and it was 1-0 Eastern prior to tip off, but the two teams hung tight, with the score being tied, 10-10.

That 10-10 tie came when the Bengals were in the midst of a 12-0 run, as it had been 10-7 Eastern, only for Nation Wide to take a 19-10 lead. Ricky Barros, who had a game-high 32 points, broke the tie with a 3-pointer for a 13-10 Bengals lead. Barros then went to the line at the 15:18 mark in the first half, and sank both of his free throws to push it to 15-10. After a bucket from Brian Washington, Barros went to the charity stripe once more and nailed both free throws with exactly 13 minutes to play in the first half.

The Mountaineers ended that run when Tyreke Johnson made one-of-two free throws at the 12:34 mark in the first half, and Martrell Brooks, who had 16 points off the bench, reduced the deficit to 19-13 when he drove to the hole for a layup. The Mountaineers chipped away and were back it in, going on a 7-0 run, which culminated when Hobbs pushed down the floor and laid one up to make it 19-17. Washington scored again to make it 21-17 to end Eastern's run, but the 3-pointers again would help pay dividends in crucial spots for the Mountaineers.

Hobbs drained one from deep despite contact being made after he got it off, and Eastern then trailed, 21-20. Dante Adams buried four 3-pointers, all of them in the first half. One of them regained the lead for Eastern, 23-21.

Eastern did build up a 47-30 lead in the first half. Julian Woods came off the bench and contributed six points as the Mountaineers tried to distance themselves, but Nation Wide went on an 18-9 run to finish the half.

The Bengals did not regain the lead in the second half, but they breathed down the Mountaineers' necks when Eastern held leads of 60-56, 62-58 and 68-64. However, the Mountaineers consistently had their foot on the pedal after Lennox made it 87-75, pushing it to a 118-88 advantage with under three minutes to play, and Edgar played his bench the rest of the way through.

"We're a work in progress, we have different parts, different pieces," Edgar said.

Edgar said he wants to see the Mountaineers play faster, and he thinks they're starting to embrace playing faster. He said Eastern has size, but isn't big, and even though size was not the strength of the Bengals, the Mountaineers would not want to make it a size game with them. Edgar said as the game on, Eastern played a tempo he liked.

The Mountaineers are scheduled to go on the road Tuesday to West Memphis, Ark. against Faith Prep Academy.

So, what would Edgar like to see out of the Mountaineers Tuesday?

"Take this (Saturday's performance) to the road," he said.