Eastern will know its seeding for the Big Sky Conference Tournament on March 12-14 when the dust clears Saturday night
Thursday, March 5 - Holt Arena (8,000) - Pocatello, Idaho
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (21-8/12-4 Big Sky) at Idaho State (6-22/3-13 Big Sky)
Saturday, March 7 - Dee Events Center 11,500) - Cheney, Wash.
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington at Weber State (12-15/7-9 Big Sky - at Idaho 3/5)
Webcast: All Big Sky games are carried at http://www.watchbigsky.com and via the new iphone/android app "Watch Big Sky"
Radio: All Eastern games are on 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 22nd season calling the play-by-play, starting 20 minutes prior to tipoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com
Radio iPhone App: Search for "Spokane Radio" and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: Idaho State CLICK HERE; Weber State CLICK HERE; ewustats.com (EWU home games).
With the possibility of finishing anywhere from first to fourth, a historic season is ending the way it began.
Nearly two months from opening the season with a home sweep of Weber State and Idaho State, the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team will end its historic 2014-15 regular season when the Eagles play both of those schools in crucial Big Sky Conference road games.
Eastern will play at ISU on Thursday (March 5) and then play at defending champion and preseason favorite Weber State on Saturday (March 7). Both games begin at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time and may heard live via radio on 700-AM ESPN and via the web at www.700espon.com. They may also be viewed via www.watchbigsky.com and via "Watch Big Sky" mobile phone apps.
The Eagles dropped out of first place and fell to 12-4 in the Big Sky Conference standings when it ended its regular season home schedule with a 77-76 loss to Montana last Saturday (Feb. 28). That came two days after Eastern romped past Montana State 92-68, helping EWU tie Sacramento State for the league lead.
As a result, EWU now finds itself in the position of needing to win its final two games and hope that 13-3 Sac State loses both of its remaining games for the opportunity of hosting the Big Sky Conference Tournament on March 12-14. Eastern also needs a loss by either Montana or Northern Arizona. A single Hornet win this week at either Southern Utah (March 5) or Northern Arizona (March 7) will send the tournament to Sacramento.
The Hornets, because of a home victory over Montana in the only meeting between the two teams this season, has the tiebreaker advantage over both the Eagles and Montana. Any head-to-head or multi-team tie will favor Sacramento State, which split with EWU this season.
An EWU tie with just Montana for the title -- as long as Sac State is in sole possession of third place -- will give the Eagles a seeding advantage because of their victory over Sac State. If Northern Arizona and Sacramento State tie for third, Montana wins the tiebreaker because they were 1-1 agaisnt those two teams and EWU was 1-2. The Grizzlies are 13-4 and end the regular season at Montana State on Saturday.
Regardless, a chance for a Big Sky Conference title – even if it's a co-championship without a No. 1 seed – has the Eagles excited about the week. Now 21-8 on the season, EWU owns school records for overall and Big Sky victories in 32 seasons as a member of NCAA Division I. The Eagles are 13-2 this season at Reese Court – their best home record in nearly 30 seasons.
"We go on the road ready to set new heights for our basketball program this week," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "I truly believe with each day we have together as a full squad, we will improve greatly for a strong end to our season."
The Eagles could share the league title and still be seeded as low as fourth in the event of a four-way tie at 13-5 involving EWU, Sac State, Montana and Northern Arizona. Also, a head-to-head tie with NAU at 12-6 would give the Lumberjacks the No. 3 seed by virtue of an earlier win over the Eagles in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Lumberjacks host Portland State and Sacramento State to end the season.
The Big Sky Tournament begins on March 12 with four games – in order, No. 2 versus No. 7, No. 3 versus No. 6; No. 4 versus No. 5 and the regular season champion versus the No. 8 seed. While the top four seeds have already been secured by EWU, Sac State, Montana and NAU, five teams are alive for the final four spots. Those teams are 9-8 Northern Colorado, 8-8 Portland State, 8-8 Idaho, 7-9 Weber State and 6-10 Southern Utah. North Dakota (4-13), Montana State (4-13) and Idaho State (3-13) have been eliminated.
Last year, the Eagles were 15-16 overall and missed the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a 10-10 league mark.
Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2014-15 EWU men's basketball fact book may be found at:
More Eagle Basketball Links
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Link to Ticket Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
Spokesman-Review EWU Basketball Page: http://www.spokesman.com/ewuhoops
Story on EWU Becoming America's Favorite Team: http://www.sbnation.com/college-basketball/2015/1/27/7922505/eastern-washington-basketball-2014-15-ncaa-tournament-tyler-harvey
Story on Tyler Harvey by Jeff Goodman of ESPN: http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/103650/tyler-harvey-college-hoops-best-kept-secret
Story on Tyler Harvey by John Walters of Newsweek Magazine: http://www.newsweek.com/tyler-harvey-nations-unlikely-leading-scorer-310177
Story on Tyler Harvey by Bud Withers of the Seattle Times: http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/college/how-tyler-harvey-the-nations-leading-scorer-found-his-way-to-eastern-washington/
Story on Tyler Harvey by Zach Helfand of the Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-tyler-harvey-20150216-story.html
Story on Tyler Harvey by Yahoo! Sports: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/how-tyler-harvey-went-from-zero-scholarships-to-the-nation-s-leading-scorer-184409702.html
Story on Tyler Harvey Listed as the Top 3-Point Shooter in the Nation: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2340158-ranking-the-deadliest-3-point-assassins-in-college-basketball-in-2014-15/page/12
Story on Tyler Harvey in SLAM! Magazine: http://www.slamonline.com/college-hs/college/tyler-harvey-eastern-washington/
Story on Tyler Harvey by Lindsay Joy from SWX/KHQ TV: http://www.swxrightnow.com/story/27853836/from-unknown-to-unmistakable-the-story-of-ewus-tyler-harvey
Australian "Flag Flyers" Interview of Venky Jois: https://soundcloud.com/sen1116/the-flag-flyers-venky-jois
Story on EWU Men's Basketball "Champs Program" at Whitman Elementary: http://www.swxrightnow.com/story/27610128/ewu-mens-basketball-taking-time-to-build-champs
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=basketball&path=mbball
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-m-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/scoreboard
Rodney Stuckey NBA Page -- http://www.nba.com/playerfile/rodney_stuckey/index.html
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM
* Eastern closes the regular season when they play at Idaho State on March 5 and Weber State on March 7. Earlier this season, Eastern opened is league season with an 84-78 home win on Jan. 1 over the Wildcats, the defending Big Sky champions and preseason pick to repeat. Two days later, Eastern beat Idaho State 65-57.
EWU vs. Idaho State Series Notes
* Eastern is 41-28 all-time against ISU, and is 10-19 on the road and 27-7 at home (1-1 at neutral sites) since becoming a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The Eagles have won 10 of the last 11 meetings, with an eight-game winning streak snapped in the 2013-14 season when the Bengals prevailed 72-83 in Pocatello. Eastern won 65-57 at home earlier this season, extending EWU's home winning streak versus ISU to 13 games dating back to a 65-63 loss on March 1, 2003.
* Earlier this season, with its bench pouring in a season-high 30 points – including a career-high 17 by true freshman Bogdan Bliznyuk -- Eastern remained unbeaten in the Big Sky Conference and at home with a 65-57 victory over Idaho State Jan. 3 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The offense was relatively quiet because of the style of game played by the Bengals, who used a zone defense the entire game to limit EWU to a season-low 49 shots. But EWU used runs of 15-0 in the first half and 13-2 and 8-0 in the second half. Juniors Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois, who entered the game averaging a combined 43.2 points per game to rank 1-2 in the league, finished with 16 apiece on combined 9-of-19 shooting. Jois had career highs for blocks (7) and steals (4), and his blocked shots total was just one behind the school record of eight. Bliznyuk made 6-of-10 shots, and sophomore Felix Von Hofe came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers in the last three minutes to help turn a 2-point advantage into 10-point bulge with 1:04 to play. Three players off the bench played at least 14 minutes (a total of 66), as they helped fill the void left when point guard Drew Brandon suffered back spasms and played only seven early minutes. Von Hofe scored nine points off the bench.
EWU vs. Weber State Series Notes
* Eastern is 21-45 all-time against Weber State, including a 15-16 home record. However, Eastern is just 4-29 all-time at Weber State and has lost the last four meetings there dating back to a 75-59 Eagle win on March 2, 2011. Until EWU won 84-78 earlier this season, the Wildcats had won the last seven meetings dating back to that 75-69 Eagle win in Ogden, Utah. Eastern had also lost the last five meetings at Reese Court, having not defeated the Wildcats at home since a 77-69 victory on Jan. 11, 2009. In the 2013-14 season, Eastern lost 74-67 in Ogden and 82-78 in Cheney.
* Earlier this season, after trailing by eight with inside of six minutes to play, the Eagles used a game-ending 21-7 run to upend league favorite and defending champion Weber State 84-78 on Thursday (Jan. 1) in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams at Reese Court. Tyler Harvey scored a career-high 39 points to equal the fifth-most points in school history. The junior guard made 12-of-19 shots from the floor including 7-of-10 3-pointers, and also made all eight of his free throws. Junior Venky Jois had 16 first-half points, and finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Eastern's defense was the difference down the stretch, with Eastern holding the Wildcats without a field goal for a nearly six-minute stretch. Weber State took a 71-63 lead with 5:57 to play, but missed its next four shots, including a pair on blocked shots by Jois. Eastern's offense came alive as well, making six of its last 12 shots with a trio of 3-pointers, and 5-of-6 free throws in the last 32 seconds. The Wildcats made their final field goal with seven ticks left. Eastern snapped a seven game-losing streak versus Weber State and won for the first time at home versus WSU since 2009.
• In NCAA Division I statistics through games of March 1, the Eagles are ranked fifth in scoring offense (80.4 per game), fifth in 3-pointers made per game (9.8) and 21st in blocked shots (5.1 per game). Eastern leads the league in all three categories. The Eagles are also 23rd nationally and third in the Big Sky in field goal percentage (47.9 percent), seventh/third in 3-point field goal percentage (40.4 percent), 43rd/fifth in the league in free throw percentage (72.9 percent), 49th/2nd in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.24 per game) and are 27th/2nd in fewest turnovers per game (10.7).
* Eastern is now 18-0 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponent, 17-2 when making at least 45 percent of its shots and 11-1 when holding the opponent to less than 45 percent. The Eagles are also 11-2 when they out-rebound or equal opponents, 13-0 when they have at least 36 rebounds and 13-3 when they hold opponents to 35 or less. In addition, Eastern is 14-5 when forcing more/equal turnovers and 13-3 when it has 10 or less turnovers. The Eagles are also 18-3 when scoring 71 points or more and 9-1 when allowing 70 or less.
* Coming three points from an unbeaten home season, Eastern finished the regular season 13-2 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The 13 victories were its most at home since the 1985-86 season when the Eagles were 15-1. Only four total times since the facility opened in the 1975-76 season has Eastern won more than 12 games (15 in 1985-86, 1977-78 and 1976-77, and 13 in 1979-80). The Eagles began the year a perfect 12-0 at Reese Court, and won those games by a combined 206 points (17.2 per game). Eastern opened the season with a pair of impressive victories over NCAA Division I teams who participated in the postseason a year ago. The Eagles beat NCAA Tourney team Texas Southern (86-62) before defeating NIT participant Utah Valley (75-50), then romped past Walla Walla 95-34. The fourth victory at Reese Court was a 21-point victory over Northern Kentucky (81-60). Eastern defeated defending Big Sky Champion and preseason favorite Weber State (84-78) at home to open the league season. The team's 10th home win was a 102-80 victory over North Dakota in which the Eagles scored 67 second-half points. The 11th was a 98-95 overtime win over Idaho after the Eagles rallied from 17 down in the second half and 11 with 1:13 to play, with a driving layin at the buzzer by Drew Brandon sending it to overtime. The Eagles won their 12th at Reese Court on Feb. 12, leading by as many as 16 in the second half against Sacramento State before prevailing 64-61. The 13th victory at home was a 24-point win over Montana State by a 92-68 score, but then the Eagles missed its last four shots in losing to Montana 77-76 on Feb. 28. A crowd of 4,621 were on hand – the fourth-largest crowd in the 40-year history of Reese Court for the game against the Griz. The only other home setback was a 68-66 loss to Portland State on Feb. 14.
* Eastern finished 6-1 in football and men's basketball games against Montana State and Montana, winning its first six before falling to the Grizzlies 77-76 at home. In the 2013-14 season, EWU was 5-for-5 until suffering an 82-77 road loss to Montana. Until the past two seasons, Eastern had never won more than four of the six meetings in any previous season.
* The Eagles used the same starting lineup for 15 of their first 17 games this season, and was 11-4 in those 15 games. However, after injuries to its two leading scorers -- Venky Jois (ankle sprain) and Tyler Harvey (quadriceps contusion) – EWU was forced to use five different lineups in the next eight games. Eastern lost two of those games, with Jois missing both. The Eagles returned to their normal lineup on Feb. 19 versus Southern Utah, and the 78-75 victory made the grouping of Jois, Harvey, Drew Brandon, Parker Kelly and Ognjen Miljkovic 12-4 this season (that lineup is now 13-6).
* The Eagles are now 21-8 overall, equaling their most victories since becoming a NCAA Division I member in the 1983-84 season. Eastern has now been a DI member for 32 seasons, and the previous high-water mark was a 20-8 record as an independent in the 1985-86 season. Now in its 107th season of basketball, Eastern had 14 20-victory seasons as a member of the NAIA, but only four times did EWU exceed 23 wins (25 in 1976-77, 27 in 1944-45 and 1942-43 and a school-record 31 in 1945-46).
* The Eagles have equaled the school record for Big Sky wins in a season, set in 1999-00 when the Eagles were 12-4, which included a 5-2 start followed by six-straight victories. Eastern's 10-1 start in the league this season equaled the school's best after 11 games in EWU's 28-year history as a member of the Big Sky Conference, but EWU came a win shy of becoming just the second to improve to 11-1. The 2003-04 team – EWU's only squad to advance to the NCAA Tournament -- lost its league opener, then won 11 straight before finishing 11-3. The 1989-90 squad was 6-1, then lost a pair of games en route to an 11-5 finish.
* With the football team setting school and Big Sky Conference records in scoring at "The Inferno" at Roos Field this past fall, the hoops team is just as prolific on offense. The Eagles are averaging 80.4 points per game to lead the league and rank fifth in NCAA Division I, led by the nation's top individual scorer in junior Tyler Harvey (22.8 per game). Eastern's season average is just off the school's Division I record of 84.2 set in the 2006-07 season, and quite a ways from the all-time mark of 90.2 set in 1971-72.
* Eastern was ranked 18th in the Feb. 23 Collegeinsider.com mid-major poll (the next pole comes out the afternoon of March 2). EWU was ranked 14th on Feb. 16, and prior to that was a season-high 12th for two weeks (Feb. 9 and Feb. 2). Eastern was 13th on Jan. 26, 14th on Jan. 19 and 13th on Jan. 12. In the three previous weeks (Jan. 6, Dec. 29 and Dec. 22) the Eagles were 19th.
* The Eagles have won games against teams from six different NCAA Division I conferences. In the preseason, Eastern won six games versus D-I opponents from the Big Ten, West Coast, Western Athletic, Atlantic Sun and Southwestern conferences.
* A 104-87 victory over Eastern Oregon on Nov. 30 gave EWU head coach Jim Hayford an even 300 victories in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach. He currently is 315-146 in 15-plus seasons as a head coach for a .683 winning percentage. He is 61-62 in 3+ seasons at EWU, was 217-57 at Whitworth and was 37-27 in two seasons at Sioux Falls.
Eagle Player Notes
• In NCAA statistics through March 1, Tyler Harvey leads NCAA Division I in scoring offense (22.8 points per game) and 3-pointers per game (3.96), and is 17th in 3-point shooting percentage (43.1 percent) and 48th in free throw percentage (.850). Venky Jois, who has missed four full games and parts of two others with a sprained ankle, is 91st in per game scoring (16.8), 10th in field goal percentage (59.9 percent), 29th in blocked shots per game (2.52) and 140th in rebounding (7.2). Drew Brandon is 45th in assists (5.0), 28th in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.59 per game) and 115th in free throw percentage (.811).
* Senior Parker Kelly will equal a school record when he plays in his 121st game as an Eagle at Idaho State on March 5 (Jeffrey Forbes played in a record 121 games from 2010-13). Kelly is the top 3-point shooter in EWU history not named Tyler Harvey. Kelly has 204 triples in his career, more than the 184 by former record holder Marc Axton (2002-05), who was passed by Harvey earlier this season (Harvey has a current total of 233). Kelly's 204 treys ranks 18th in Big Sky Conference history, and he is now just 22 points from becoming the 19th player in EWU history – and third this season – to go over the 1,000-point mark in his career. The 2011 graduate of Spokane's Gonzaga Prep High School has started 74 games in his career, and is averaging 8.2 points on 41.1 percent shooting from the 3-point stripe and an impressive free throw percentage of .837. Also EWU's top defender, he averaged 10.0 points and 34.5 minutes per game in the 2013-14 season and is averaging 8.4 points and 32.8 minutes this year while battling nagging foot and groin injuries.
* National award candidate Tyler Harvey leads NCAA Division I in scoring (22.8) and is first in 3-pointers per game (4.96), 17th in 3-point accuracy (43.1 percent) and 48th in free throw percentage (85.0 percent). Harvey is one of 16 Finalists for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year and is on the watch list for the Lou Henson Award given to the nation's top mid-major player. He suffered a quadriceps contusion in the first half against Idaho on Jan. 31 and sat out the three games after that. He has struggled shooting the ball from the 3-point stripe since missing those three games, making only 12-of-48 3-point shots (25.0 percent) in the last five games. He entered February ranked fourth in NCAA Division I with a 48.6 percent accuracy rate. Prior to the injury, in EWU's first two games of its 3-0 home stand in January, Harvey scored 61 points to earn co-Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors from the league office, as well as the same honor by himself from Collegeinsider.com. His performances included a 35-point outing against Northern Colorado on Jan. 22, which was his fourth of at least 30 this season and 10th of his career (three versus UNC). In late January, Harvey was also picked as the "deadliest 3-point assassin" in the nation by bleacherreport.com, and he and the Eagles have also been featured this winter by Newsweek Magazine, Slam! Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Times, Yahoo! Sports, and SB Nation.
* Junior Venky Jois, who was hampered in January and February with a sprained ankle, had a pair of double-doubles last week to give him five on the season and 23 in his career. He finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds against Montana State on Feb. 26, then had 10 points and 11 boards one game later versus Montana. They were his first double-doubles since Dec. 11 against San Francisco. He finished with 22 points at Southern Utah on Feb. 19 for his highest scoring output in exactly two months since scoring 23 versus Cal on Dec. 19. He made 8-of-12 shots from the field and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. EWU's first two league losses this season came when Jois had been held out because of a sprained ankle. He missed the Portland State game on Feb. 14 after aggravating his injury in EWU's victory over Sacramento State two days earlier. He had missed the previous game in January versus Sac State as well as two other full games and parts of two others.
* A year after not having a "Senior Day" because the Eagles were senior-less, Eastern honored three Eagles playing in their final regular season home game of the season on Feb. 28 versus Montana. The trio of Parker Kelly, Drew Brandon and Garrett Moon have combined for 329 games of experience (132 starts) for EWU, with Kelly playing four seasons and Brandon and Moon transferring from junior colleges.
* Senior point guard Drew Brandon has had four double-doubles during league play – including two near triple-doubles to come the closest to achieving that feat in school history. As a result, he earned back-to-back Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors in the Big Sky, and has a total of six double-doubles on the season and 11 in his career. Brandon is averaging 9.8 points, 5.0 assists, 1.8 steals and a team-leading 7.2 rebounds per outing while battling a broken finger and a season-long bout with back spasms, and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 140-to-54. Brandon is averaging 5.0 assists, 10.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his 58-game career (57 as a starter) with eight double-figure assist performances, 10 in rebounding and 33 in scoring (two with at least 20 when he scored 27 each in huge road victories this season at Indiana and Montana). Brandon has the second-best assist average in school history, a mark of 5.0 that trails the 8.4 average of Ed Waters (1974-77) and is 11th overall in assists with 292. He needs just 22 assists to equal the school record for two-year players (314 by Darryl Harris in the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons). A transfer from Sierra College in California, Brandon is from Corona, Calif., and is a 2010 graduate of Santiago High School.
* Senior Garrett Moon has seen his minutes increase in recent games, and is averaging 8.6 minutes, 1.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots during league play. He equaled his career high with eight points at Portland State on Jan. 15, had a career-high five blocks on Feb. 12 versus Sacramento State and then had a career high 10 rebounds two days later versus PSU. In his career, he has 20 blocked shots in 50 career games (one start), to go along with averages of 6.8 minutes, 1.4 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. He transferred to EWU from City College of San Francisco, and is a 2010 graduate of Wallenberg High School in San Francisco.
* True freshman Bogdan Bliznyuk has provided a boost off the bench during league play, and in the process has established himself as the frontrunner for the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honor won two seasons ago by Eagle Venky Jois. Bliznyuk is averaging 24.4 minutes, 12.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in league play. He's made a team-best 59.7 percent of his shots (71-of-119) in those 16 games and has converted 35-of-46 free throws (76.1 percent). Ten of his 12 double-figure scoring performances this season have come during the Big Sky season. Four times during league play he eclipsed his career high for scoring, and three times for rebounding. He had 19 points and 10 rebounds at Sacramento State when he had the first double-double of his Eastern career. At one point he had seven-straight double-figure scoring performance. For the season, Bliznyuk is averaging 8.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 18.2 minutes, and ranks fourth in the Big Sky with a field goal shooting percentage of 60.8 percent.
* Achieving a first in Eastern men's basketball history, Tyler Harvey was selected on Feb. 26 as a first team selection on the 2014-15 Capital One Academic All-America® team for NCAA Division I as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Harvey was one of five players to be named to the first team, and is EWU's initial first team selection in school history. The guard from Torrance, Calif. (Bishop Montgomery HS '11) has a 3.60 grade point average as a communications studies major. Eastern has had just three other Academic All-America selections since moving from the NAIA to the NCAA in the early 1980's. Rodney Stuckey, now playing for the Indiana Pacers in the NBA, was a third team selection in 2007 as EWU's first-ever selection as a member of Division I. Dave Henley, a graduate of Shadle Park High School in Spokane, earned second team accolades in 1982 and was a third team pick in 1981 when EWU was in NCAA Division II. On Feb. 25, Harvey was the recipient of a "Keeper of the Dream" award from EWU's Africana Studies department.
* Three Eagles – all underclassmen -- are averaging at least 10.7 points per game this season, paced by the 22.8 average of junior guard Tyler Harvey and the 16.8 average of junior forward Venky Jois. Jois is also averaging 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game, and sophomore forward Ognjen Miljkovic is averaging 10.7 points and 3.3 rebounds, with 51 3-pointers made on the season. Harvey is averaging 18.2 points, 2.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game in his 78-game career thus far (61 as a starter), making 235-of-544 3-point attempts for 43.2 percent. Jois has 23 double-doubles in his 84-game career (82 as a starter), and is averaging 14.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.1 blocked shots per game in his career. Miljkovic is averaging 21.8 minutes, 9.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in his 53-game Eastern career (34 as a starter).
* Junior Tyler Harvey has now averaged 21.6 points per game in his last 65 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. In fact, his one-year improvement of 14.1 points per game from his freshman to sophomore seasons ranked third in the nation. In EWU's last eight games of the 2012-13 season, he scored 132 points (16.5 average) on 55 percent shooting from the field (52-of-94, including 20-of-44 3-point attempts). In the first 13 games he played as a freshman, Harvey scored just 17 points (by contrast, in the first 13 games in the 2013-14 season he scored 261 with an average of 20.1 per game). In his freshman season, he played in 21 of EWU's 31 games and averaged 14.0 minutes and 7.1 points per game. As a sophomore, he averaged 21.9 points and 37.4 minutes in starting all 31 EWU games.
* In a three-game stretch from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, Venky Jois made 23-of-27 free throws for 85.1 percent, but in the other games he's played, he's made 59-of-119 (49.6 percent), including just 12 of his first 33 (36 percent). He made 71.2 percent from the line as a freshman (89-of-125), 52.8 percent as a sophomore (94-of-178) and thus far is at 56.2 percent (82-of-146) as a junior. He sank all eight of his shots from the charity line against Eastern Oregon on Nov. 30 and then made 12-of-15 at Seattle on Dec. 6 and 3-of-4 against San Francisco on Dec. 11.
* Bit by injuries this season and still managing to win 19 of 25 games, the latest loss for the Eagles is freshman guard Sir Washington, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. He was averaging 10.1 minutes and 2.5 points off the bench for the Eagles.
Eagle Records Watch
* Tyler Harvey is climbing EWU and the Big Sky single season 3-pointers lists, with 103 this season to equal the second-most in school history and rank fourth all-time in the Big Sky. Harvey holds the school record with 109 a year ago (second in league history), and Eagle Shannon Taylor made 103 in the 1998-99 season. The first player in league history to have two single season performances of 100 treys, he is two from moving into third (Cory Schwab from Northern Arizona with 105 in 2001). The Big Sky record is 124 set by Stephen Sir from NAU in 2007. Earlier this season, Harvey broke the school record for career 3-pointers made, with a current total of 235 to eclipse the previous record of 184 set by Marc Axton (2002-05). His 544 attempts is also a record, breaking the previous mark of 499 by Axton. Harvey is the 17th player in Big Sky Conference history to make at least 200 and is currently 11th in league history (five away from ranking 10th). He is currently second in school history for career free throw percentage (84.6 percent), and is third for career scoring average (18.2) and fifth in 3-point shooting accuracy (43.2 percent). Harvey has had 39 performances in his career with at least 20 points and 10 with at least 30, and has scored in double figures in 37-straight games (total of 63). His career total of 1,420 points is fifth in school history.
* Parker Kelly now has 978 career points and is just 22 from becoming the 19th player in EWU history – and third this season – to go over the 1,000-point mark in his career. He should set the school record for games played when the Eagles play at Idaho State on March 5 (he has 120 to rank second in school history behind the record of 121). Kelly is eighth in school history in 3-point percentage (41.1 percent), second in 3-pointers made (204) and third in attempts (496). Kelly's 83.7 percent shooting from the free throw line in his career would rank third in school history (teammate Tyler Harvey currently is second at 84.6 and the record is 84.9) if he had enough attempts to qualify (he has 203 and needs 240).
* Junior Venky Jois is just five blocked shots away from equaling the school record of 68 set by Martin Seiferth in 2013. Jois owns three of the top five single season performances in school history, with 63 blocks this season (third), 49 last season (fifth) and 66 as a freshman (second). He became the 18th player in EWU history to go over the 1,000-point mark in his career (versus Lewis-Clark State on Dec. 22), and has a current total of 1,179 to rank 12th. He continues to add to his career record for blocked shots, and now has 178 in his career to rank sixth all-time in the Big Sky Conference. His 14.00 scoring average is currently 12th and his 8.1 rebounding average is eighth. Jois has had 14 performances in his career with at least 20 points and two with at least 30, and has 23 career double-doubles (five this season).
* Senior Drew Brandon has the second-best assist average in school history, a mark of 5.0 that trails the 8.4 average of Ed Waters (1974-77), and is 11th overall in assists with 292. He needs just 22 assists to equal the school record for two-year players (314 by Darryl Harris in the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons).
Recent Game Recaps
* Eastern missed its last four shots from the field and Montana had a perfect free throw shooting day to beat the Eagles 77-76 Feb. 28 in a first-place Big Sky Conference showdown at Reese Court. A crowd of 4,621 were on hand – the fourth-largest crowd in the 40-year history of Reese Court. Senior Parker Kelly – one of three Eagle seniors playing in their final regular season home game – missed a potential game-winning shot with four seconds to play. Besides not scoring for the final 1:54 of the game, the Eagles missed eight free throws that could have made a difference after the Grizzlies enjoyed a perfect 12-of-12 day at the line. Junior Tyler Harvey led the Eagles with 27 points, making 7-of-8 shots from inside the 3-point stripe, but was just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. Junior Venky Jois had his second-straight double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and he also had five blocked shots, five assists and a pair of steals. Senior point guard Drew Brandon scored all 15 of his points in the first half, and also finished with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Kelly chipped in nine points while playing in his 120th game as an Eagle – one shy of the school record. After trailing by four early in the second half, Eastern went on an 11-2 run that was highlighted by 3-pointers by Harvey and Kelly. The surge gave EWU its biggest lead of the game at five, 56-51 with 13:48 to play. Eastern led 69-66 when Harvey made three free throws, but Montana went on a game-changing 7-0 run in the next two minutes to take the lead for good. Eastern pulled within 77-76 on a layup by Harvey, but EWU missed its last four shots in the final 59 seconds of the game. Eastern made 46.6 percent of its shots from the field, but Montana was slightly better at 48.3 percent. The Eagles made 10-of-25 from the 3-point stripe for 40 percent, and UM was 9-of-22 for 41 percent.
* Registering its largest margin of victory since Nov. 19, the Eastern Washington University men's basketball moved back into first place in the Big Sky Conference with a 92-68 victory over Montana State Feb. 26 at Reese Court. Eastern made 60 percent of its shots in the second half en route to scoring 55 points after intermission. The 24-point win equaled EWU's second-largest margin of victory over a NCAA Division I opponent this season, and was second only to the 25 EWU beat Utah Valley by on Nov. 17 (75-50). Eastern beat Walla Walla two nights after that by 61 points (95-34). Venky Jois, who had been hampered with a sprained ankle, finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and 22nd in his career. It was his first since Dec. 11 against San Francisco. Tyler Harvey, the nation's scoring leader, added 20 points and five rebounds, and Ognjen Mijkovic scored 15 on perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field. Senior point guard Drew Brandon had 12 rebounds – two away from his career high – and also had six points, six assists and a pair of steals. The Eagles led by seven early in the second half, but scored 24 of the next 30 points to open a 25-point lead with 13:29 left to play. Included was a 13-0 run as the Eagles held MSU without a point for nearly four minutes. The Eagles led by as many as 30.
Quoting Coach Hayford
On Games at Idaho State & Weber State: "We just have to keep getting better. We've had our team playing and practicing together for the last ten days and we just have to get cohesion. Tyler (Harvey) is going to start shooting better. He has had a tough last four or five games. When we get him up to the percentages he has showed all year then he is going to help us win. I thought he had a pretty good shot selection against Montana. If we can get him those eight looks in any game in the future he's going to make more than two."
On Montana Game: "When it is a game that comes down to one possession like that, there are a lot of things you can look at. You have to give them credit – they came on the road and were perfect from the free throw line, while we missed eight chances. It's a different game there at the end if we make more free throws. I am really proud of our team. Our guys will learn from this and grow from it. We'll need a little help from teams playing Sacramento State and we will still be in the thick for the Big Sky Championship. There was only one preseason prognosticator who thought we would win this thing, so we're trying to make him right."
On Message to Team: "We have four losses and Montana has four losses. We need to refuse to lose, but we're going to need a little help here. I don't know if Sacramento State can walk through Portland State, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona without a loss. If our guys can refuse to lose, and go to Idaho State and Weber State and win, we would end the season with four losses. I tell you what, I'll take a Big Sky Championship flag, and it won't say 'Co'. We still have a lot to play for."
On Final Play Versus Montana: "We executed a really good baseline out-of-bounds play and Drew hit Parker there in rhythm. I asked Parker if he was fouled, and he said no. He missed it, but he got a wide-open look. Parker has made a lot of big shots, and I love that a senior was taking that on Senior Day. If Hollywood would have written it, it would have gone in. But Missoula wrote it."
On Atmosphere at Reese Court: "It was great -- we are really appreciative of all the fans. When we went to work taking over the program as a coaching staff four years ago, you bring recruits into this gym and they say, 'Wow. This is a cool gym. It's a Division I gym.' But you have to fill it and you have to give people a reason to come. I feel like our team has done that with 21 wins. That's more than any other (NCAA Division I) team here. I really appreciate the Eastern fans for filling it."
On Montana State Win: "Our team and I are in a great mood right now. Everybody understands that we worked hard to get to this point, and I think they are really hungry for more. The team said at halftime, 'this doesn't have to be a close game --- let's go put the pedal to the metal.' I thought the team came out of the locker room at halftime as fired up as I have ever seen them."
On Fourth-Year Senior Parker Kelly: "Parker has meant a lot. From day one since he arrived here, he's done every single thing the coaches have asked him to do – and more. He's been the epitome of hard work, dedication and being a man of action. He's been a joy to coach."
On Tyler Harvey's First Team Academic All-America Honor: "What a great honor for a great person. I am very happy for Tyler to be recognized as a student and a player. To be called an Academic All-American is something he will be able to carry with him through all facets of life. We are extremely proud of him."
On Tyler's Harvey's 39-Point Performance Against Weber State: "The great thing about Tyler is all he wants is to win. He was just the right voice in every huddle. He is obviously a very special player."
On Individual Milestones & Records: "As our players developed these last three years, we knew there was promise and hope. Now we are seeing these players get 1,000 points in career scoring and set all-time records for blocked shots and 3-point shooting. Most importantly, it's just neat to see these players realizing their potential. We often say the dirtiest word in athletics is potential because that means you haven't gotten there yet. As these players reach these milestones, it's a significant accomplishment in recognizing their development as players. What I love best about them is that they are all hungry for more, and what they are focused on more than anything else is team success."