Monday, February 16, 2015

Jois-less in Cheney, Eagles squander early lead to fall 68-66 to visiting Portland State

Parker Kelly, photo from
On January 15th the Eagles defeated Portland State in Portland 92-85, but lost Star Junior Forward Venky Jois to an ankle sprain early in the first half, including that contest, Eastern has played 9 games and have had both Tyler Harvey and Jois for only 1 game, a 98-95 over time win against Idaho.

Prior to the tip against Portland State, Venky reported to Coach Hayford that he just couldn't go and wouldn't be able to help the team because he had re-aggravated that same ankle sprain. "Even in practice yesterday we thought he was going to play -- he just came up really sore after Thursday.  The week before in Montana, he was just in crazy pain against Montana State and he just felt like it kind of set him back.  He gave everything he had against Sacramento State Thursday and then he felt worse than he had since the Idaho game -- the first game he played.  He had tears in his eyes when he came up to me before warm-ups 15 minutes before the game and said, 'I just can't do it, it just hurts, I won't be able to help the team.'"

Harvey was available for this game, however he clearly was not 100% and struggled all night to find that smooth shot that has him still leading all of the NCAA D1 in scoring per game with 23.4 points per game.  Tyler kept working and though he shot just 2 of 12 from beyond the arc he finished with a game high 22 points largely on the strength of a perfect 10 of 10 effort from the free throw line.  He also added 2 rebounds and 1 assist.

Harvey wasn't the only one to struggle on what turned out to be a bad offensive night for the EWU Hoops team.  They finished 38.2% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc.  The Eagles took a 6 point lead into the half, but the Vikings opened the half on a 19-6 run and held a 44-38 lead with 11:37 to go.  The Eagles battled back and hung around, but they couldn't get the critical stops as Portland State hit 69.% of their 2nd half shots including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.

Parker Kelly added 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 assist for the Eagles hitting 5 of 9 shots from the field including 2 of 4 from three point range.

Ognjen "OG" Miljkovic was the only other Eagle in double figures with 12 points.  He added 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block on 4 of 12 shooting.

Drew Brandon was 3 of 11 shooting and added a pair of free throws for 9 total points. He also pulled down 6 rebounds and added 2 assists and 2 steals.

Garrett Moon got the start in place of Venky Jois and played 25 minutes. He led all players with 10 rebounds and added 2 pts (1 of 3), 1 assist and 1 block.

Kyle Reid was a perfect 2 of 2 from the field in 4 minutes for 4 points.  He also added 1 rebounds and 1 steal.  Felix Von Hofe didn't score in 9 minutes, but did grab a steal.

Bogdan 'The Blizzard" Bliznyuk had a second straight quiet outing with 3 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes.

The Eagles struggled both offensively and defensively and didn't look at all in sync for much of the game.  As Coach Hayford indicated after the game, the injuries and limited practice time just prevented them from hitting their stride.  Just one game after taking control of the Big Sky Conference lead the Eagles lost a crucial home game and had to rely on rival Idaho to stay on top. Thankfully, the Vandals took down Sacramento State 69-58 in Moscow.

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