Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EWU Eagles host the ISU Bengals in regular season finale

Jeffrey Forbes and the Eagles
will need attack the basket tonight
photo from goeags.com
Tonight at 6:05pm est, the Eagles (7-8, 13-16) will host the Bengals (7-8, 9-19) in a game that is not only the regular season finale for both teams, not only the second meeting between them in 5 days, not only a preview of the first round match up for these teams in the Big Sky Conference tournament, its also the game that will decide which school will get the opportunity to host that first round game.  This game will decide whether or not 6,000 screaming Eagles faithful will be there to cheer their hearts out as the Eagles look for their first win in the Big Sky Conference tournament since Rodney Stuckey’s 38 points led the Eagles to an 81-75 victory over the Portland Stat Vikings in March 2006.

Stay with me after the jump:

Chase Grabau and the Bengals
look to secure a home game
in the Big Sky Conference Tourney
photo from isubengals.com
The Eagles will need to play a much much cleaner game than they managed last week, a game which featured 55 called fouls and left three Eagles (and three Bengals) on the bench in the waning minutes.  Last week the only thing that saved the Eagles from being abused by the Bengals tandem of big men, Abner Moreira (#32) and Jakub Kusmieruk (#13) was foul trouble.  Moreira fouled out with 10 points, and Kusmieruk finished with 13 minutes and 4 fouls after amassing 4 pts, 3 blocks and 3 rebounds.  Similarly the Eagles were aided by the foul trouble of Kenny McGowen (#11) who scored 11 points before fouling out.

Jim Hayford and the Eagles put the Bengals in foul trouble by consistently attacking the basket and forcing the Bengals players to make the decision to foul or give up the open shot.  The only thing the Bengals gould to stop Laron Griffin (#15) was to foul him, repeatedly.  Griffin led all players with 11 free throw attempts, making 5.  He scored 15 pts on 5 of 8 shooting from the field and pulled down 7 rebounds before fouling out.  The Eagles ran much of their offense through Cliff Ederaine (#42) who finished with 7pts, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.  Look for the Eagles to continue attacking the paint and to give ‘Big’ Cliff more opportunities to score.

On the perimeter the Eagles will need to play better defense as the Bengals shot 53% from the field in the first match up, well above their season average (42%).  The Eagles allowed 15 assists in the last meeting and forced 15 turnovers.  They will need to improve that ratio by keeping pressure on the ball and cutting off passing lanes.  The Eagles also shot well above their season average (40.5%) in that last meeting finishing 26 of 54 (48.1%) from the field.  The Eagles can’t afford to rely on hot shooting to win or keep them in this game.

For the Bengals, they need to get Kenny McGowen rolling.  Over the last 7 games the Bengals are 2-5, in their two wins McGowen averaged 33.5 pts, and in their five losses he averaged 15 pts.  The Bengals will have to protect the ball on offense and stay out of foul trouble on defense if they want a different result from tonight’s match up.

These teams will face off in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Saturday, and as stated above the winner tonight will get to host that contest.