Evergreen's win shocks the visiting Owls
January 25, 2008
OLYMPIA, Wash. - While Coach Drinkwine is hesitant to make any bold statements about the future of his team, one can tell he's enjoying the ride. Tonight's 75-69 win over #10 NAIA Division II ranked Oregon Tech is a landmark for Evergreen this season and for ESC men's basketball history.
Including tonight, the Geoducks have defeated their rival just four times out of sixteen games.
Playing at the top of the Cascade Conference is no easy task for any team. The conference currently has three teams in the top 25 in the most recent NAIA Div. II polls. Evergreen (ranked 34th) will certainly get some attention after tonight's win.
Evergreen's defense tonight was impressive. The team held OIT's All-American Ryan Fiegi to just 14 points. It was a season low for Fiegi, who has averaged 20 points per game.
OIT was the better shooting team the first half of the game, making 56% of their field goal attempts to ESC's 43%. Evergreen actually did not have an impressive shooting performance the entire game with a 39% average compared to OIT's 47%.
It was a fiesty Geoduck defense that made life difficult for the Owls as they forced errors and gained a critical edge off of OIT's fouls.
Evergreen hit 63% of their free throws while Oregon Tech managed just 50%.
At the end of the first period Evergreen trailed 42-41. The Geoducks were quick to lead early in that half, gaining a 6 point advantage three minutes in. Nathan Menefee (Timberline HS) made three baskets from three point range before OIT stepped up their defense on the 5'10" sophomore guard.
Just as Evergreen held down Ryan Fiegi, OIT pressed Menefee. Yet somehow the Cascade Conference's leading scorer managed 24 points for the game. Menefee's speed makes him a dangerous inside scorer.
The Geoducks have plenty of big guns to call out when needed. Four other Evergreen players hit the double digits in scoring. Nick Moore and Julio Feliciano had 14 and 12 respectively. Feliciano was the teams leading rebounder with 9. Marcus Whittaker (Sr. Henryetta, OK) added 10 points and 3 steals.
In the last four minutes of the game, Evergreen had pulled to an eight point lead and the frustration on OIT's bench was evident. Just when OIT gained possession of the ball through a rebound or steal, Evergreen reversed the situation before the Owls could find the basket. OIT did not score a single point in the final three minutes.
Drinkwine praised the efforts of team members that do not always make their presence known by scoring points.
"David Howard (Sr. Dallas, TX) and Michael Ward (Jr. Kansas City, MO) were big for us defensively" Drinkwine recognized.
The one-two punch of Howard and Ward combined for 5 steals, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Howard hit 2 of 2 free throws as well.
While OIT's Fiegi may have had a low scoring night, he impacted the game with a strong defensive performance. The 6'7" senior forward had 11 rebounds to give him the games only double-double performance. Fiegi also recorded an impressive 5 steals.
Three other Owls scored in the double digits tonight. Josh Wetzler led with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Jguwon Hodges had 14 and Christian Cavanaugh scored 12 points.
OIT (17-4, 8-3 CCC) remains at number two in the Cascade Conference behind Eastern Oregon. The Geoducks (12-5, 7-4 CCC) jump to third.
When asked about tomorrow's game vs Southern Oregon, Coach Drinkwine was cautious. "We played great as a team tonight. The best I've seen. What we do not want to do is take Southern lightly. Anything can happen".
Saturday's game time will begin at 7:30 PM following women's play. Evergreen beat SOU (7-14, 3-8 CCC) by 25 points last month in Ashland, OR.