Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Home for the Holidays Eagles hold off Lewis & Clark State 87-81

Tyler Harvey owns EWU career 3pt record
photo from goeags.com
A 6 point win over any NAIA Division I opponent does not look impressive.  Giving up 81 points in that game also does not look so impressive.  Impressions from this 10,000 foot view can be misleading.

A closer look at last night's win over Lewis & Clark State may not suddenly turn this into a "quality win," but they will tell a different and more important tale.

First, Lewis & Clark State is one of the best teams in NAIA Division I this season, the team is 13-2 not counting losses to DI EWU and Idaho.  In those 17 games they are averaging 93 points per contest.  The Warriors have done a lot of travelling and have shown well.

Now consider that three of the Eagles Fab 5 are banged up.  Parker Kelly is playing on an injured foot and it showed up last night as he couldn't quite set on some of his shots, still he finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist.  Drew Brandon has been hobbled by a bad back and what appears to be a sprained or possibly broken finger.  Multiple injuries couldn't keep him from producing last night, 2 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and a monster 11 assists.  Ognjen "OG" Milkovic entered the game with so much athletic tape on his left shoulder he could have been mistaken for a badly repaired robot.  "OG" still knocked down 11 points and added an assist for the EWU last night.

Tyler Harvey entered last night's game needing two 3 pointers to become the all time EWU record holder.  So he hit 8 of them in 10 attempts.  With the rest of this team banged up, Tyler has delivered in the biggest possible way.  Over the past 3 games he has shot 30 - 43 from the field or about 70% including 19 - 26 from beyond the arc or about 73%.  He's scored 26, 31 and 34 points in successive games which represents 50%, 46% and 39% of the team's points in those contests.  He's not just scoring a lot and often, he's scoring when the team desperately needs it.  In last night's contest the Warriors tried to make a run and Tyler turned a 6 point game into a 9 point game with his 8th 3 of the night effectively ending their chances.

Venky Jois didn't stuff the stat sheet last night, but he did more than enough to help his team get the win.  Oh and his first bucket of the game put him over the career 1000 point mark.  Along with Harvey these two are the first to players in EWU history to both have reached that goal and still be on the court together.  He finished with 13 big points including a tip-in 2 to help close out the Warriors late rally.  He added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal.

In a game that the Eagles desperately needed some bench production, they finally got it.  Kyle Reid gave Coach Hayford 13 solid minutes with 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Sir Washington threw in 13 good minutes of his own with 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block.  His 2 FT's closed out the game and sealed the Eagle victory.

Bogdan Bliznyuk came up huge for the Eagles.  Sophomore Felix Von Hofe couldn't go, "OG" was playing through injury so Coach Hayford needed the Freshman to play big time minutes and that is just what he did.  16 minutes, a career high 13 points on 5-5 shooting from the field and 3 -3 from the free throw line he added 3 rebounds and 1 block.  Bliznyuk has a lot of improving to do in his game and a lot of time to do it, but last night he showed his team they can count on him to do his part.

The Eagles now get to take time off for the Holidays, rest up and get ready to start conference play at home against Weber State on New Year's Day.

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