Senior point guard averages 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.5 assists in Eastern's first road sweep since 2003-04
For the second-straight week and third time this season, senior point guard Drew Brandon has been selected as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week following EWU's first road sweep since the 2003-04 season.
Brandon had another stellar weekend in helping EWU improve to 18-5 on the season and 9-1 in the Big Sky. With leading scorer Tyler Harvey sidelined, Brandon averaged 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.5 assists in Eagle wins over Montana (75-69) and Montana State (61-51).
He also had just two turnovers in 79 total minutes, helping EWU to a plus-15 advantage in turnovers (36 takeaways, 21 giveaways). He helped secure Eagle wins down the stretch by making 11-of-14 free throws (78.6 percent), and made 14-of-33 shots from the field (42.4 percent) and 3-of-11 3-pointers (27.3 percent).
In the win over MSU, he had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season and 11th in his career. He also made 7-of-8 free throws and had a career-high six steals to equal the 13th-best performance in school history. With Eastern nursing a 55-51 lead with 1 1/2 minutes left, his offensive rebound led to an Eagle layup with 55 seconds to play to clinch the win.
“Drew is just a winner – he finds different ways to help us win,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after the MSU victory. “Against Montana State it was at the free throw line and rebounding. He had 15 points, 12 rebounds and six steals – that was just big-time.”
One game earlier, Brandon equaled his career high with 27 points in EWU’s win over Montana, which snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Grizzlies in Montana. Brandon, who has played much of the season with back ailments – as well as a recently-disclosed broken finger – attempted a career-high 20 shots from the field en route to equaling the 27 points he had earlier this season in a stunning win over Indiana.
“This was a good night to show who the true Drew Brandon was," Hayford said after the Montana win. "We figured they would leave him alone. His shooting percentage was low because he had a broken finger for the first 10-12 games. He took advantage of it. When we were doing a good job burning the clock in the second half, the terminations came to him and he finished. His dunk at the end was amazing – it was right down the middle. He had 20 shots and didn’t take a bad shot the whole night.”
Brandon was named co-Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Feb. 2 for nearly finishing with a triple-double in EWU’s 98-95 overtime victory over Idaho on Jan. 31.
Brandon has had double-doubles in four of his last five games – including two near triple-doubles – with a total of six on the season and 11 in his career. Brandon has the second-best assist average in school history, a mark of 5.2 that trails the 8.4 average of Ed Waters (1974-77).