Eagles Go Final 2:57 without scoring after winning in Cheney 70-66 just five days earlier
It was a grinder that just didn’t go EWU’s way down the stretch.
Just five days after recording a 76-70 home victory, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team went the final 2:57 without scoring and fell to Seattle 58-52 Monday (Nov. 23) in the rematch at Key Arena in Seattle, Wash.
Senior Venky Jois led three Eagles in double figures as he finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
The Eagles made only 9-of-28 3-point attempts after making 15-of-34 in the first meeting. Junior Felix Von Hofe scored a career-high 25 a week ago, but had only three in the rematch on 1-of-8 shooting from the 3-point stripe. Eastern entered the game ranked fifth in NCAA Division I in scoring offense with an average of 96.7 points per game.
The game featured 12 ties and eight lead changes.
“We are a work in progress,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “It’s a lot more fun to learn lessons developing a team when they win games. But sometimes you need to eat humble pie because it builds strong muscles. Tonight we had a dose of humble pie. Our players know they can shoot the ball better, but we didn’t do it tonight and Seattle got the win.”
Won-Lost Records . . .
* Eastern is now 2-2, having lost its opener Nov. 13 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) two days later.
* The Redhawks are now 1-3, having opened the season with a 58-56 home loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff and a 77-65 setback to Sacramento State.
What It Means . . .
* The Eagles won’t play any Big Sky Conference opponents in back-to-back games, but there will be rematches ahead for EWU. The Eagle-Redhawk series was quality NCAA Division I competition for both teams, which advanced to national postseason tournaments a year ago.
What's Next . . .
* Eastern takes on the University of the Pacific and South Dakota this weekend in Sacramento, Calif., as part of the Sacramento State Basketball Invitational. There will be no tournament winner, as both EWU and the host Hornets take on non-conference foes. Eastern plays Pacific at approximately 6:35 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 28) followed by a 2:35 p.m. game on Sunday (Nov. 29) against South Dakota. The Tigers of the West Coast Conference are currently 1-3 after a 79-44 victory over Notre Dame de Namur on Monday night, while the Coyotes are 1-3 heading into a game Tuesday versus South Dakota Mines & Technology. Pacific opened the season with losses to Arizona (79-61), Cal State Fullerton (77-76) and Nevada (85-82). South Dakota from the Summit League has lost to Wright State (77-69), Northern Illinois (72-65) and Kansas State (93-72), with a win over Cal State Northridge (76-72).
Keys to Game . . .
* Eastern had just seven turnovers in the first meeting, and entered the game ranked 20th in NCAA Division I with a plus 5.7 turnover margin per game. However, the Eagles were guilty of a season-high 18 turnovers, while Seattle had 13.
Top Performers . . .
* Senior graduate transfer Austin McBroom scored 11 points, after contributing 16 in the first meeting. He also had a pair of assists.
* Sophomore Bogdan Bliznyuk scored 11 points and added seven rebounds and five assists.
* Senior Venky Jois had just five points in the first meeting, but contributed 14 points, 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.
* Redshirt freshman Will Ferris came off the bench to score nine points with a trio of 3-pointers.
Turning Point . . .
* The Eagles led most of the game, but Seattle forged its first lead of the game at 43-42 with 6:14 left to play. But the Eagles could manage only four baskets after that. Eastern tied it at 52 on a 3-pointer by Bogdan Bliznyuk with 2:57 left, but closed the game by missing its last four shots and committing two turnovers.
Key Stats . . .
* In his pursuit of the Big Sky Conference blocked shots record, Venky Jois made a huge difference for the Eagles defensively defensive battle in Seattle. The senior forward had five second-half blocked shots, and the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team held Seattle to 45 percent shooting from the field. He now has 195 blocks in his career to rank fifth on the league’s all-time list. He is just one from fourth and 52 from the Big Sky record of 247 set by Brian Qvale of Montana (2008-11).
Team Highlights . . .
* The first half featured long scoreless stretches for both teams, and ultimately EWU led at intermission 22-19. Eastern used an 8-0 run to take an early 17-10 lead, holding Seattle to without a point for 7:28 and without a field goal for 8:16 in that stretch. However, the Redhawks followed with a 9-0 run of its own, holding EWU scoreless for 5:51.
Notables . . .
* 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 13-9 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 Seattle & EWU Defense: “You think of all the things you want to do better, but you have to credit the other team. They executed some good offense in the second half. I thought our defense was pretty good, especially in the first half. It’s an odd opponent in that they’ll make it a slow, kind of lumbering game, and if you don’t shoot the ball well you are going to be in trouble. Venky did a pretty good job blocking some shots and cleaning some stuff up inside.”
On Offensive Woes: “Felix is a really good shooter but was 1-of-8 tonight – he’s going to shoot better than that. We got him looks he didn’t put down tonight but did last week. We had 10 turnovers out Venky and Bogdan. When we went inside, we needed to show a little more discipline in our passing.”
On Grinder: “When you combine high turnovers with low shooting, you are going to be in a grinder. The other side of it was they shot 30 free throws and we had five. They outscored us by 12 at the free throw line. I think that has to do with them being in their zone and not getting in foul trouble, but foul trouble hurt us because we were playing man-to-man. Put all those things together and you lose a close game. We have to learn from it.”
On Ferris Guarding Westendorf: “He guarded (Brenden) Westendorf for 23 minutes. He and Sir Washington combined to hold him to 10 points, but it took nine fouls to hold him there. Take away a few of their free throws and maybe we sneak out of here with a win.”
On Lessons Learned: “We are just going to have to learn from it. When we aren’t making the outside shots, people can really gear up against our drive game. We need to shoot the ball well, and that’s going to throw a lot of pressure on Austin, Felix and others. It was nice to see Will come off the bench and give us that.”