Monday, January 26, 2015

67 point second half powers Eastern to victory over North Dakota 102-80 at Reese Court

Eagle Hoops scored it's 15th victory of the season Saturday afternoon at Reese Court against the nickname-less University of North Dakota 102-80.

In the process Eastern pushed itself to 6th in the nation in scoring (82.6 per game), 9th in the nation in field goal percentage (49.5%) and kept on pace with Big Sky Conference leading Sacramento State.

According to the media, and the casual observer, the story of the game is the Eagle's 67 point second half, but the foundations for the big finish were laid in the first.

When UND took a 41-35 point lead into halftime, they also took 6 players in foul trouble with at least 2 personal fouls, including 4 starters.

UND played hard in the first half, forcing the Eagles to take many contested shots and keeping them below their season average in shooting percentages, but they also yielded 14 free throws (EWU players hit 11) and also put nearly all of their key contributors into foul trouble.  All of this foul trouble meant UND had to change their defense in the second half.   They finished with four players (all starters) with 4 fouls and the other five players all had 2.

That is how you end up with a 67 point second half, one team that is among the nation's leaders in scoring and field goal percentage and the other team unable to play tight defense because everyone is in foul trouble.  Without having to worry about defenders the Eagles shot 74.6% from the field, including 66.7% from beyond the arc, in the second half.  They also earned 14 more free throws and made 13 of them.

Jaron Nash took advantage of the absence of Venky Jois scoring 24 and grabbing 8 rebounds for UND.  Quinton Hooker hit 50% of his shots including a pair of 3's to net 16 points and 8 rebounds.  Lenny Antwi scored on 3 of 5 attempts from beyond the arc and earned 13 points off the bench for UND as well.

Head Coach Jim Hayford's squad was again led by the NCAA's leading scorer, Tyler Harvey, with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and a pair of steals.

Eastern's unstoppable Freshman Bogdan Bliznyuk, hit a career high 25 points and added 7 rebounds and 1 steal, continuing his 6 game streak of double digit scoring off the bench.

Ognjen "OG" Miljkovic finished two points shy of his season high with 18 points, all in the second half.  OG drained 6 of 8 shots from the field including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, both season highs.  He added 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block.

If Drew Brandon does not earn a triple-double it will be a travesty and perhaps more importantly it won't be due to a lack of talent or effort.  Once again the Senior Point Guard threatened the feat with 13 assists, 11 points and 8 rebounds.  He also snagged 4 steals.

Parker Kelly, now healthy, has scored in double digits in 4 of the last 5 games, a feat he achieved just 4 times in the previous 14 games playing through injury.  Parker finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds (including 1 he unintentionally stole from Brandon), 1 assist and 1 steal.

"Big Fred" Jorg got the start in place of the injured Venky Jois, but played just 3 minutes,finishing with 2 points.

Garrett Moon was fantastic again for the Eagles.  The Senior Forward in a Guard's body gave the Eagles 16 solid minutes netting 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and added 2 blocks, 2 rebounds and an assist.

Junior transfer Kyle Reid gave Coach Hayford 9 solid minutes with 2 points and 2 rebounds.

The Eagles again defended Reese Court, improving to 10-0 on their home floor and more importantly improving to 6-1 in Big Sky play.  Up next, they host the Vandals from the University of Idaho Saturday afternoon.  Tip off is at 3 pm PT.

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