Eastern, in first of back-to-back games against Seattle, hit 15 3-pointers with Felix Von Hofe netting a career-high 25 points
There are only five days before the rematch, but Felix Von Hofe may wish he could play the Redhawks again tomorrow.
The junior sharpshooter made seven of EWU's 15 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 25 points for the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team in a 76-70 victory Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 18) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles built a 15-point lead with 5:27 left, then survived a late 12-0 Seattle run to register the win. The two teams play again next Monday (Nov. 23) in Seattle.
Von Hofe's performance included a 7-of-12 effort from the 3-point line, and 8-of-15 overall against Seattle's zone defense. He eclipsed his previous career high of 23 against Sacramento State in last year's Big Sky Conference Tournament, and EWU's 15 treys were three away from the school record. He did not play in EWU's last game on Sunday versus George Fox.
"I don't know if it's special, but it's what I expect him to do," said Hayford of one of his two co-captains. "If the team gives him 12 good looks – he didn't take a bad shot – he's going to make them. His goal each game is to make 50 percent or more of his threes. He's disappointed if he doesn't. He made one more than 50 percent tonight. It should be routine and he takes great pride in himself as a shooter. I hope he gets 12 looks in every game – that will be good for us. He's obviously a premier shooter."
The game was postponed by 18 1/2 hours after a massive wind storm slammed the Inland Northwest on Tuesday evening. The storm, with sustained winds of 40-miles per hour and gusts of up to 70 creating widespread power outages and unsafe travel conditions, forced the delay. Power was restored to campus early Wednesday morning, and with both teams and officials waiting out the storm, the decision was made to play.
"With all the adversity around this game, it was good to get it in and good to get a win," Hayford added.
Won-Lost Records . . .
* Eastern is now 2-1, having lost its opener last Friday to Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., and then setting school records for steals (23) and points (126) in a 62-point victory over George Fox (126-64) on Sunday.
* The Redhawks are now 0-3 after a 77-65 loss to Sacramento State on Sunday and a season-opening 58-56 home loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
What It Means . . .
* The game was Eastern's third in six days, which included a season-opening trip to Starkville, Miss., via Memphis, Tenn. The difficult stretch will help the Eagles as they prepare for several similar stretches of non-conference games later in November and December, as well as the rigors of traveling in the Big Sky Conference.
What's Next . . .
* Eastern makes the short trip to Seattle to play the Redhawks again on Monday (Nov. 23) at Key Arena in Seattle. Tipoff is 7 p.m.
Keys to Game . . .
* With Seattle playing zone defense most of the game, Eastern made 15-of-34 3-pointers for 44 percent. A year ago, the Eagles were fifth in NCAA Division I with an average of 9.8 treys per game, and their .400 percentage was eighth. Through three games this season, the Eagles have made 30-of-81 for 37 percent.
Top Performers . . .
* Junior Felix Von Hofe paced the Eagles with a career-high 25 points, making 8-of-15 shots overall and 7-of-12 from the 3-point stripe. He also had four assists.
* Senior graduate transfer Austin McBroom contributed 16 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the 3-point stripe, and made four clutch free throws in the final 43 seconds. He also had three assists and a key steal late in the contest.
* Sophomore Bogdan Bliznyuk scored 10 points in just 28 minutes because of foul trouble.
* Sophomore guard Sir Washington was the fourth Eagle in double figures with 11 points, making a pair of 3-pointers.
* Senior Venky Jois had just five points, but contributed nine rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. In last year's meeting versus Seattle, Jois scored 38 points to lead the Eagles to an 87-75 victory at Key Arena.
Turning Point . . .
* Early in the second half, Felix Von Hofe ignited the Eagles with a steal and assist to Bogdan Bliznyuk on a layin that were the first fastbreak points of the game for the Eagles. He followed with a driving layin himself, and a 3-pointer with 11:46 left that gave EWU a 51-38 advantage. His seventh trey of the game at the 5:27 mark gave EWU a 68-53 advantage.
Key Stats . . .
* The Eagles finished with just seven turnovers, and had 16 assists. Although out-shot from the field 51 percent to 45 percent and having one less field goal in the game, the Eagles made six more 3-pointers than the Redhawks.
Team Highlights . . .
* The Eagles hit six 3-pointers in the opening 7:15, including three by Austin McBroom and a pair by Felix Von Hofe. That helped Eastern open a 20-7 lead, and the Eagles hit 10 total treys in the first half en route to a 38-30 halftime advantage.
Notables . . .
* Eastern has scored 290 points in three games already for an average of 96.7 points per game. Last year's team set a school record with 2,820 points scored and averaged 80.6 per game to rank third in NCAA Division I.
* The meetings with Seattle are the first of nine games for the Eagles versus six teams who appeared in national postseason tournaments a year ago. The Redhawks were 18-16 overall and 7-7 in the Western Athletic Conference last season. Seattle advanced to the semifinals of the College Basketball Insider (CBI) Tournament, falling to Loyola Chicago 63-48. The Redhawks, who host the Eagles Nov. 23 in Seattle, lost to New Mexico State in the championship game of the WAC Tournament.
* Eastern is now 13-8 all-time against Seattle in a series that has included at least one game annually since 2009. Eastern won last season in Seattle 87-75, and the year before triumphed in Cheney 82-75. Before renewing their rivalry in 2009, the last meeting came on Nov. 22, 1985, when Eastern won 83-64 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Until 2009, that was the lone game played between the two schools since EWU moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The first four meetings came in the 1945-46 season, and Eastern won all four of those games, as well as a pair the following season. A split followed in 1948-49, and Seattle swept a pair in the 1951-52 season. Seattle was in NCAA Division I from 1944-1980, with such star players as Elgin Baylor, John O'Brien, Clint Richardson and Frank Oleynick on its rosters. Baylor, in fact, led Seattle to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament where it lost 84-72 to Kentucky. Formerly known as the Chieftains, from 1980-2002 they were affiliated with NAIA and from 2002-2007 were a member of NCAA Division II.
More Comments from Head Coach Jim Hayford . . .
On Win: "We're really happy to win a game. As this team comes together, who knows how good we'll be. When you get a win you are grateful and you accept it. The team that was up 15 with about five minutes to go was the team I see when I look at my team. The way we played in the last four minutes I was a little disappointed with. But give Seattle some credit, they made some big shots."
On Contributions: "Felix obviously shot the ball very well. I thought Venky did a really good job on the boards and he drew a lot of attention which opened up the outside. It was a good team win, and as we went to the bench to different guys, each player gave us something very helpful."
On Seattle Zone: "They were in a zone and we're going to run our zone offense. If you are going against two seven footers with 6-6 and 6-7 guys, you can draw them and kick it out to guys who shoot from the 3-point line. I think we were wise and judicious with our shot selection today."
On Back-to-Back Meetings: "It's really unique. I'm trying to think in my years as a coach where we have had back-to-back home and away (against the same team) – kind of NBA-like. They are 0-3, so I'm sure we are going to get a really, really good punch from them. There will be some game-planning because they are going to take away some of the things we did today. We are going to have to counter with some other things. It's going to be interesting and really, really helpful."
On Passing: "Our assist-to-turnovers were at a 2-to-1 ratio – those are good numbers. Sometimes you end up with more turnovers against a zone because you're trying to force some passes. I thought we did a pretty good job of that."