Thursday, January 15, 2015

EWU gets their first road win in Big Sky Conference hoops over Idaho 89-86

Venky Jois, photo from
Last Saturday Eastern Washington scored its first Big Sky Conference win over the University of Idaho 89-86.

The Eagles trailed 41-42 at the half, but shot 50%from the field and out rebounded the Vandals 16-15 to eek out a win in the second.

Neither team played well defensively, but Eastern turned 9 forced turnovers into 19 points while Idaho mustered just 7 points of 7 forced turnovers.

Eastern continued another troubling trend as they were out rebounded in the first half 14-20 and trailed at halftime.  Most troubling were the 14 offensive rebounds the Vandals grabbed.  The Eagles want to hang their hat on playing better defense, but giving teams that many second chances is dangerous and especially a team that was shooting 48.4% from the field.

Tyler Harvey led all scorers with 23 points and added 6 rebounds and 2 steals.  Harvey was not his usual can't miss self hitting just 4 of 11 shots from 3 point range, however his 6 rebounds nearly doubles his season average (3.8).

Venky Jois was second for the Eagles with 16 points and added 6 blocks, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.  Idaho simply had no answer for Venky on offense as he drained 8 of 11 shots from the floor.  On defense he made the Vandals work hard for their 38 points in the paint.

Bogdan Bliznyuk, for the third time in as many games, gave Coach Hayford big time production from the bench with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal with 0 turnovers.  The Freshman Forward is developing into a star and is showing a knack for offensive boards.  18 of his 42 rebounds came on the offensive glass and Bogdan is making 61.7% of his shots from the field.

Parker Kelly hit 3 of 4 from deep and a pair of FT's for 11 points and added 3 rebounds.

Perhaps the biggest star of the night was Drew Brandon who once again got dangerously close to the first triple-double in EWU history.  11 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 2 steals with just 2 turnovers is more than an impressive stat-line.  He also nailed 4 clutch FT's in the closing minutes to help ice the game.  It was very good to see the Eagles' Senior Point Guard back in form Saturday night.

Ultimately, the Eagles won this game by getting to the free throw line, threatening the bucket from multiple positions and more than anything finishing strong.  Coach Hayford's squad will need to get better on the glass, especially defensively, but so far they are finding ways to keep winning even through a couple of games where Tyler Harvey looks just human.  Tonight they take on Portland State, tip off is at 7:05 pm PST.

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