Big Sky Regular Season Title Up for Grabs Between Eagles, Hornets & Grizzlies

Eastern plays at Weber State Saturday evening with a chance to secure the school's third Big Sky regular season title, and, perhaps, host status for Big Sky Conference Tournament on March 12-14

Upcoming Games

Saturday, March 7 - Dee Events Center (11,500) - Ogden, Utah.
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (22-8/13-4 Big Sky) at Weber State (13-15/8-9 Big Sky)

 

Coverage

TV: None.
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: Weber State CLICK HERE; ewustats.com (EWU home games).


The drama on Saturday evening can't come soon enough for the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team.

Excited for the opportunity to play for the school's third Big Sky Conference regular season title in school history, a historic season is ending the way it began when EWU plays at defending champion and preseason favorite Weber State on Saturday (March 7).

The game begins at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time and may be heard live via radio on 700-AM ESPN and via the web at www.700espon.com. It may also be viewed via www.watchbigsky.com and via "Watch Big Sky" mobile phone apps.

Eastern defeated Idaho State 85-81 on Thursday (March 5) to tie for the league lead at 13-4 with Montana and Sacramento State, which fell to Southern Utah 69-65. The Hornets play at Northern Arizona on Saturday afternoon, and the Grizzlies play at Montana State in the evening.

The Eagles are 22-8 overall, but will have their hands full with Weber State (13-15, 8-9), a 74-63 winner over Idaho on Thursday. The Wildcats are fighting with three other teams for the remaining three berths to the Big Sky Conference Tournament, and a win over the Eagles would secure a bid.

Tiebreakers don't go Weber State's way, so a home victory over EWU – or a loss by Southern Utah -- is imperative to its chances to defending the regular season and tournament titles it won a year ago. Besides the motivation factors for the Wildcats, the Eagles are just 4-29 all-time against Weber State in Ogden.

"What a great race that it comes down to the very last day," said Hayford after his team's win over Idaho State. "I certainly would have taken that at the beginning of the season – to be told we would be tied for first place going into our last game. I definitely would have taken it. We did what we had to do and came out of (Pocatello) with a win."

Eastern could host the March 12-14 tournament, but would need both Sacramento State and Montana to lose. 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 – even if all three teams lose -- will favor Sacramento State, which split with EWU this season.

An EWU tie with just Montana for the title would send the tournament to Missoula. The Eagles and Grizzlies split, but UM would win the tiebreaker because it was 1-1 and EWU was 1-2 against Sac State and NAU, who will both be 13-5. If four teams tie for the league title at 13-5, Sac would be No. 1, Montana would be No. 2, NAU would be No. 3 and EWU would be No. 4 because of collective records against those teams (EWU was 2-3, with splits versus UM and Sac State, and a loss to NAU).

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.

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 seeds. Northern Colorado at 9-8 has already clinched, but 8-9 Portland State, 8-9 Idaho, 8-9 Weber State and 7-10 Southern Utah are alive for the final three berths. North Dakota (4-13), Montana State (4-13) and Idaho State (3-14) have been eliminated.

 

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 Jan. 1 in the Big Sky 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.

 
 

Eagle Tip-Ins 

* Eastern has won two regular season league titles in 27 previous years as a member of the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles shared the regular season title with Montana in 1999-2000, but lost the tiebreaker to host the league tournament. Eastern won both regular season and tournament titles in 2003-04. The Eagles finished 15-12 overall and 12-4 in the Big Sky in 1999-00, and were 17-13 overall and 11-3 in the league in the 2003-04 season.

* With 22 victories, the Eagles are almost certainly assured of a berth in a postseason tournament. The Big Sky Conference Tournament champion receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, and other possibilities are the NIT (National Invitation Tournament), CIT (CollegeInsider.com Tournament) and the CBI (College Basketball Invitational). Last season, Weber State advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and North Dakota, Portland State and Northern Colorado all made first-round CIT appearances. Eastern lost to Wyoming in the first round of the NIT in 2003, and lost 75-56 to Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament a year later.

* Eastern will be making its 13th Big Sky Conference Tournament appearance in 28 years as a member of the league, with a record of 8-11 in its 19 games. Eastern hasn't appeared since the 2011-12 and 2010-11 seasons, which were EWU's first since 2006. The Eagles qualified for each tournament from 1998-2006. Eastern ended its season with losses to Montana in three of its last four appearances, with those coming in 2012, 2006 and 2005. But the year before, in 2004, EWU won the title with a 71-59 championship game victory over Northern Arizona to advance to the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament (EWU made its first-ever NIT appearance in 2003). Although its streak of Big Sky tournament berths came to an end in the 2006-07 season, Eastern was just the fifth school in league history to make nine-straight appearances in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Eastern started the streak back in 1998 after making just one trip to the tourney in their first 10 seasons as a member of the conference. Weber State had its string of 24-straight appearances stopped in 2005-06, and Montana had a string of 21-straight from 1978-98. The other streaks were 16 by Idaho (1981-96) and 11 by Nevada (1982-92). Interestingly, Montana's 77-69 victory over the Lumberjacks on Feb. 28, 2005, extended Eastern's streak and ended NAU's eight-season streak. Eastern's streak started in 1998 with an end-of-year victory at Montana. That "winner advance, loser eliminated" game ended Montana's 21-year streak. In 2011, Eastern's season came to an end with a 79-70 loss at Weber State in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. That came just three days after the Eagles stunned WSU on their home court 75-59 to end the regular season. Because of the upset, the Wildcats lost their chance at a first-round bye and had to face the Eagles again. In the rematch, WSU out-scored EWU 46-25 in the second half as the Wildcats overcame a 12-point EWU halftime lead and a 15-point deficit early in the second half.

Here is a list of Eastern's appearances in the Big Sky Tournament.
2012 – Semifinal (Missoula, Mont.) #4 seed vs. #1 Montana  – L, 66-74
2012 – Quarterfinal (Cheney, Wash.) #4 seed vs. #5 Idaho State – W, 81-75
2011 - Quarterfinal (Ogden, Utah) - #6 seed vs. #3 Weber State - L, 70-79
2006 - Semifinal (Flagstaff, Ariz.) - #3 seed vs. #2 Montana - L, 71-73 (ot)
2006 - Quarterfinal (Cheney, Wash.) - #3 seed vs. #6 Portland State - W, 81-75
2005 - Quarterfinal (Missoula, Mont.) - #6 seed vs. #3 Montana - L, 48-58
2004 - Championship (Cheney, Wash.) - #1 seed vs. #2 Northern Ariz. - W, 71-59
2004 - Semifinals (Cheney, Wash.) - #1 seed vs. #5 Weber State - W, 72-53
2003 - Championship (Ogden, Utah) - #2 seed vs. #1 Weber State - L, 57-60
2003 - Semifinals (Ogden, Utah) - #2 seed vs. #4 Idaho State - W, 76-67
2002 - Championship (Bozeman, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #5 Montana - L, 66-70
2002 - Semifinals (Bozeman, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #3 Weber State - W, 62-57
2001 - Championship (Northridge, Calif.) - #2 seed vs. #1 CS Northridge - L, 58-73
2001 - Semifinals (Northridge, Calif.) - #2 seed vs. #5 Northern Arizona - W, 58-53
2000 - Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #3 Northern Arizona - L, 65-82
1999 - Quarterfinals (Ogden, Utah) - #6 seed vs. #3 Portland State - L, 74-80
1998 - Quarterfinals (Flagstaff, Ariz.) - #3 seed vs. #6 CS Northridge - L, 98-104 (ot)
1990 - Championship (Boise, Idaho) - #2 seed vs. #1 Idaho - L, 62-65
1990 - Semifinals (Boise, Idaho) - #2 seed vs. #5 Weber State - W, 83-67

* Last year, the Eagles were 15-16 overall and missed the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a 10-10 league mark. Interestingly, Sacramento State was also 10-10, but secured the final bid because of a tiebreaker advantage over EWU, which dropped its final game of the season to Weber State 82-78.

* Eastern is now 18-0 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponent, 18-2 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 12-2 when they out-rebound or equal opponents, 14-0 when they have at least 36 rebounds and 14-3 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 19-3 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.

* 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 15-6).

* The Eagles are now 22-8 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 exceeded the school record for Big Sky wins in a season, breaking the previous mark 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 80.5 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 (22.9 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.

* Ranked for the 11th-straight week, Eastern is 20th in the March 2 Collegeinsider.com mid-major poll (the next pole comes out the afternoon of March 9). EWU was ranked 18th on Feb. 23, 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 316-146 in 15-plus seasons as a head coach for a .684 winning percentage. He is 62-62 in 3+ seasons at EWU, was 217-57 at Whitworth and was 37-27 in two seasons at Sioux Falls.

 

Eagle Player Notes 

* Senior Parker Kelly played in his 121st game as an Eagle at Idaho State to equal the school record of 121 set by Jeffrey Forbes from 2010-13. Kelly is the top 3-point shooter in EWU history not named Tyler Harvey. Kelly has 206 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 240 to move into 10th in league history). Kelly's 206 treys ranks 17th in Big Sky Conference history, and he is now just 14 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 75 games in his career, and is averaging 8.1 points on 41.0 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 32.9 minutes this year while battling nagging foot and groin injuries.

* Tyler 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 17-of-60 3-point shots (28.3 percent) in the last five games, but did make five of his first six against Idaho State on March 5. 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, Campus Insiders and SB Nation.

* Junior Venky Jois, who was hampered in January and February with a sprained ankle, has had three-straight double-doubles to give him six on the season and 24 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. His third double-double was at Idaho State when he made 8-of-10 shots to finish with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Those 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 332 games of experience (134 starts) for EWU, with Kelly playing four seasons and Brandon and Moon transferring from junior colleges.

* Senior point guard Drew Brandon has had five 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 seven double-doubles on the season and 12 in his career. Brandon is averaging 9.8 points, 5.0 assists, 1.8 steals and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per outing while battling a broken finger and a season-long bout with back spasms, and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 145-to-54. Brandon is averaging 5.0 assists, 10.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in his 59-game career (58 as a starter) with eight double-figure assist performances, 11 in rebounding and 34 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 10th overall in assists with 297. He needs just 17 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 7.6 minutes, 1.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.7 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 52 career games (one start), to go along with averages of 6.6 minutes, 1.3 points and 1.3 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 23.9 minutes, 11.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in league play. He's made a team-best 60.5 percent of his shots (75-of-124) in those 17 games and has converted 36-of-47 free throws (76.6 percent). Eleven of his 13 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 8.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 18.1 minutes, and ranks third in the Big Sky with a field goal shooting percentage of 61.5 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 10.5 points per game this season, paced by the 22.9 average of junior guard Tyler Harvey and the 16.9 average of junior forward Venky Jois. Jois is also averaging 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game, and sophomore forward Ognjen Miljkovic is averaging 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds, with 52 3-pointers made on the season. Harvey is averaging 18.3 points, 2.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game in his 79-game career thus far (62 as a starter), making 240-of-556 3-point attempts for 43.2 percent. Jois has 24 double-doubles in his 85-game career (83 as a starter), and is averaging 14.1 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 54-game Eastern career (35 as a starter).

* Junior Tyler Harvey has now averaged 21.6 points per game in his last 66 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 64-of-129 (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 55.8 percent (87-of-156) 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 108 this season to equal the second-most in school history and rank third 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. Harvey is the first player in league history to have two single season performances of 100 treys and is just 16 behind the Big Sky record of 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 240 to eclipse the previous record of 184 set by Marc Axton (2002-05). His 556 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 10th 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 (18.3) and fifth in 3-point shooting accuracy (43.2 percent). Harvey has had 40 performances in his career with at least 20 points and 10 with at least 30, and has scored in double figures in 38-straight games (total of 64). He has a career total of 1,440 points, moving past Rodney Stuckey (1,420) into fourth on EWU's all-time leaders list.

* Parker Kelly now has 986 career points and is just 14 from becoming the 19th player in EWU history – and third this season – to go over the 1,000-point mark in his career. He equaled the school record for games played when the Eagles played at Idaho State on March 5. Kelly is eighth in school history in 3-point percentage (41.0 percent), second in 3-pointers made (206) and second in attempts (503). 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 242).

* Junior Venky Jois is just four 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 64 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 1,200 to rank 11th. He continues to add to his career record for blocked shots, and now has 179 in his career to rank sixth all-time in the Big Sky Conference. His 14.10 scoring average is currently 12th all-time at EWU and his 8.1 rebounding average is eighth. Jois has had 15 performances in his career with at least 20 points and two with at least 30, and has 24 career double-doubles (six 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 10th overall in assists with 297. He needs just 17 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

 * A 3-point shooting barrage in the first half helped Eastern take a 41-26 lead at halftime, and the Eagles went on to hold off Idaho State 85-81 March 5 at Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho. Eastern opened a 19-point lead in the second half, but then had to make 11-of-14 free throws in the final 6:37. A clutch 3-pointer by Felix Von Hofe with 18 seconds to play was the key basket down the stretch. Most importantly, the Eagles made their last three field goals, one game after missing their last four in a 77-76 home loss to Montana. Juniors Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois combined for 45 points for the Eagles, with Harvey scoring 24. Jois had 21 points and 10 rebounds for his third-straight double-double. Senior point guard Drew Brandon also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and added five assists. True freshman Bogdan Bilznyuk chipped in 10 points and five rebounds in just 16 minutes before fouling out. The Eagles trailed for only one minute in the game, as their hot shooting opened up an early lead. Harvey had four 3-pointers in the first 11 minutes, helping EWU open a 25-21 lead. But then EWU held ISU to five points the rest of the half to lead 41-26 at intermission.  After Idaho State used a 3-pointer to cut EWU's lead to 80-79 with 49 seconds to play, Von Hofe responded with a trey of his own to help EWU regain a two-possession lead. Brandon clinched it for the Eagles with a pair of free throws with eight seconds left. A basket by Jois with 1:24 left and a 3-point play by Bliznyuk at the 3:38 mark were key baskets down the stretch for EWU. Eastern made 12-of-33 3-pointers in the game for 36.4 percent. More importantly, the Eagles made 8-of-22 in the first half, as Harvey made five of his first six attempts.

 

Quoting Coach Hayford

On Idaho State Win: "I've always said I'll take a one-point win. Winning No. 22 and getting a Big Sky road win is great. Winning on the road in the Big Sky is tough. Idaho State got momentum, we got in foul trouble and they were scoring. But we hung on and we hung on. Felix made a really big shot for us, but obviously we have to play better defense. They also hit some big, tough shots. We played a really good first half to hold them to 32 percent. We knew we needed to have a good punch in the first five minutes of the second half and we did that. Then they got out of their zone and went to man. Our offense was good in the second half, but we're going to have to play better defense on Saturday night. We scored enough points in the second half – 44 is a enough and is a great number. But their 55 in the second half is what will keep me up all night."

On 3-Point Shooting Versus ISU: "Tyler was above 40 percent and if he's above 40 percent we're going to win games. I'm glad Felix made that last one – it was the biggest shot of his career."

On Venky Jois Versus ISU: "We were running a lot of offense through him. He's still in a lot of pain (with his ankle sprain) and my hat is off to him. But for him to get his third-straight double-double shows that he's a fighter."

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