In the Big Sky Conference logjam from second to 10th, EWU and Vikings are both fighting for tournament berths with five games to go
Monday, Feb. 24 - Reese Court (5,000) -
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (13-13/8-7 Big Sky) vs. Portland State (12-12/7-8 Big Sky)
Thursday, Feb. 27 - Butler-Hancock
Sports Pavilion (2,992) - Greeley, Colo.
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington at Northern Colorado (16-9/10-6 Big Sky)
Saturday, Feb. 29 - Betty
Engelstad Sioux Center (3,064) - Grand Forks, N.D.
12:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington at North Dakota (12-14/9-7 Big Sky - host PSU on 2/27)
Shows take place at the Swinging Doors in Spokane at 6 p.m.
Mondays Jan. 13 to March 10 (no show Feb. 24), and feature head
coach Jim Hayford and host Larry
Weir. The Swinging Doors is located at W. 1018 Francis in
Spokane. Shows are broadcast on 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com &
via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and
TV: The EWU-PSU Game is televised live
regionally by SWX digital 6.2 in Spokane/Cheney/Sandpoint/Lewiston,
23.3 in Yakima and 25.3 in the Tri-Cities; also via Comcast 306
(Spokane); Davis Cable 514/81.2/12 (Cheney); Time Warner 306 (Coeur
d’Alene & Pullman/Moscow); Charter 287
(Tri-Cities/Yakima), Cable One 466 (Lewiston) and Northland Cable
115 (Moses Lake & Sandpoint).
Webcast: EWU home games and all Big Sky games are carried at http://www.watchbigsky.com and via the new iphone/android app "Watch Big Sky"
Radio: All Eastern games are on 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 21st season calling the play-by-play, starting 20 minutes prior to tipoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com
Radio iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: ewulive.statb.us (web/all EWU Home Games) or ewustats.com (mobile phones/EWU Home Games).
The word is third.
At a juncture of the season where the importance of each game only escalates, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team can move into third place in the Big Sky Conference standings when it hosts Portland State on Monday (Feb. 24). The game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., begins at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time and is televised regionally on SWX, and is also carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com.
The Eagles have now won five of its last six games to improve to 8-7 in the Big Sky Conference and 13-13 overall. Prior to its current three-game winning streak, Eastern was ninth in the league standings and is currently in sole possession of sixth. If Eastern wins, EWU will move into a third-place tie with Montana, Sacramento State and North Dakota. A loss would but EWU into a tie for sixth with PSU, Montana State and Northern Arizona.
The Vikings enter Monday’s game 7-8 in the Big Sky and 12-12 on the season. The Vikings won at Southern Utah on Thursday by an 86-79 score, followed by EWU’s 85-74 win in Cedar City on Saturday. Entering Monday’s lone league game, just three games separates second (Northern Colorado) from 10th (Idaho State) in the standings. Weber State leads at 12-4, but has lost two of its last three.
Earlier this season, the Eagles lost on the road to Portland State (92-83). Eastern allowed 62 second-half points after owning a 10-point halftime lead.
“Portland State needs to win to stay in the race, and we need to keep defending our home court,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford, whose team returns to the road to face Northern Colorado (Feb. 27) and North Dakota (Feb. 29) later this week. “We played a great first half at their place, and then had an atrocious defensive second half. Our players spent a lot of time watching video of that game and learning how to get better.”
The Eagles are hoping for a repeat performance from last Saturday when the Eagles had a nearly 2-to-1 advantage in points in the paint versus Southern Utah (36-20). Sophomore Venky Jois had a double-double with 29 points and 13 rebounds versus SUU – his first double-double since finishing with 11 points and 10 boards against the Vikings on Jan. 27.
In that game, PSU’s small lineup forced Eastern into season highs of 19 turnovers and 35 points allowed off those miscues. The Eagles haven’t had more than 16 turnovers in any game since then, and is averaging 9.3 per game in their last four outings.
“It’s no secret – they are going to be small and we have some size,” said Hayford. “We have to be a little more patient in our offense to exploit that. It should be a great basketball game, and we would love to have lots of Eastern fans there cheering us on.”
Sophomore guard Tyler Harvey continues his scoring onslaught for the Eagles, scoring 26 at Southern Utah to bump his season average to 21.8 and his point total to 566 – fifth-most in school history. He has had performances of 36, 37 and 38 since Jan. 23. Now with three of the top 17 scoring performances in school history, Harvey scored 36 in the first meeting with Southern Utah, had 38 versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 1 and then had 37 against Northern Arizona on Feb. 15. All three of those meetings came at home.
Harvey ranks in the top 11 nationally in three categories, and his 95 3-pointers this season are on pace to finish the regular season with 113 and break the school record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999. He’s already seventh in Big Sky history, with the record 124.
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2013-14 EWU men’s basketball
fact book may be found at:
More Eagle Basketball Links
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Story on EWU Basketball Program at Collegeinsider.com -- http://vimeo.com/85124429
Link to Ticket Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
Spokesman-Review EWU Basketball Page: http://www.spokesman.com/ewuhoops
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=basketball&path=mbball
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-m-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/scoreboard
Rodney Stuckey NBA Page -- http://www.nba.com/playerfile/rodney_stuckey/index.html
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM
The Playoff Picture
In one of the most hotly-contested league races in recent memory, 10 of the 11 league teams are within five games of each other in the race to seven slots in the Big Sky Conference Tournament on March 13-15 at the site of the regular season champion. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record among tied teams, therefore, sweeps are of paramount importance. The second criteria is record versus teams in ascending order of finish, so, at this point, victories over Weber State and Northern Colorado are critical. Here is a quick glimpse of the league race, remaining games, sweeps and the current cutoff line of the top seven.
^Weber State (12-4…@MSU, Sac, NAU, @PSU, @EWU) –
Sweep over UND, MSU; Not Swept.
*Northern Colorado (10-6…@Sac, EWU, PSU, @UND, @SUU) – Sweeps over UU, NAU; Not Swept.
*Montana (9-7…ISU, SUU, MSU, @Sac, @NAU) – Sweep over ISU; Swept by UNC.
North Dakota (9-7…@NAU, PSU, EWU, UNC, @SUU) – Sweep over ISU, NAU; Swept by WSU.
*^Sacramento State (9-7…UNC, @WSU, @ISU, UM, MSU) – No Sweeps; Not Swept.
^Eastern Washington (8-7…@SUU, PSU, @UNC, @UND, ISU, WSU) – Sweep over MSU.
^Montana State (8-8…WSU, SUU, @UM, @NAU, @Sac) – Sweep over PSU; Swept by EWU, WSU
Northern Arizona (8-8…UND, @ISU, @WSU, MSU, UM) – Sweep over PSU; Swept by UNC, UND.
^Portland State (7-8….@EWU, @UND, @UNC, WSU, ISU) – No Sweeps; Swept by MSU, NAU.
*^Idaho State (7-9…@UM, NAU, Sac, @EWU, @PSU) – No Sweeps; Swept by WSU, MSU, UM
*Win over Weber State; ^Win over Northern Colorado.
* At 13-13 overall, Eastern is already three victories better than last season (10-21) and with one more league win as a year ago (7-13). In hopes of garnering one of seven berths in the Big Sky Conference Tournament in March, EWU is ahead of last year’s marks of 6-9 and 8-18 at the same juncture a year ago when EWU failed to qualify. “We keep looking at player improvement and team improvement,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “ We are even at 13-13 and have a winning record in the Big Sky. Now we have to keep pushing that needle forward in improvement. If we continue to do that, our hope is that we’ll be a part of the league tournament.”
* With 217 3-pointers on the season, EWU is just 66 from the school record of 283 EWU had in Jim Hayford’s first season as EWU’s head coach in 2012. The Eagles are on pace to finish the regular season with 258. The Big Sky record is 317 set by Portland State in 2009. Eastern’s record for attempts is 793 in 2012, and the Eagles currently have 578 (on pace to finish with 689).
* The Eagles have had only 37 turnovers in their last three games –EWU’s best four-game stretch of the season. Point guard Drew Brandon has had 20 assists and four turnovers in his last three games, including back-to-back performances with only one turnover and nine assists against Sacramento State and Northern Arizona. Although just 7-4 when having 10 or less turnovers, the Eagles are 7-2 when they have fewer turnovers than their opponent. “We are taking good care of the ball and we are showing a lot more offensive patience,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford.
* Overall, the Eagles are now 9-2 at home, including a 6-1 mark during Big Sky play. The Eagles are 2-11 on opponent home courts, with the lone victories a 79-50 romp in Bozeman on Feb. 6 and an 85-74 win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22. Last season, EWU was 7-7 at home, including just 5-5 in league games.
* The Eagles are leading the Big Sky Conference in scoring offense (76.3), 3-pointers made per game (8.3), assists (13.6) and rebounds (36.7); are second in blocked shots (4.1) and defensive field goal percentage (.448); and are third in defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.347) and offensive rebounds (10.8). The Eagles are last in scoring defense (75.2), but allowed just 50 to Montana State on Feb. 6.
* Two of the greatest strides the Eagles have made this season are in rebounding margin and free throw percentage. Eastern is now fifth in rebounding margin with a plus 1.2 for the season thus far. A year ago, Eastern was 10th out of 11 teams with a minus margin of 4.2 per game. The Eagles were 11th and last in the Big Sky in free throw percentage last year at 65.5 percent, but this year have improved that to 68.6 percent to rank ninth in the Big Sky. The Eagles are shooting at a 71.5 percent clip in conference play (sixth).
* In league games only this season, EWU leads the Big Sky in scoring (76.8) and 3-pointers made per game (8.3). The Eagles are also second in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.350), assists (13.7) and blocked shots (4.1), but are last in points allowed (75.4).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Feb. 20, Eastern is ranked 16th among 345 schools with an average of 8.5 3-pointers made per game, 56th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.6 percent) and 61st in scoring offense (76.0).
* Win-loss trends continue to show the importance of field goal shooting and field goal shooting defense in EWU’s win-loss record. Eastern is 12-0 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 1-13 when it doesn’t. Also, the Eagles are 13-1 when making at least 45.0 percent of their shots, and 0-12 when they are under that mark. In addition, EWU is 9-1 when it holds opponents to 44.4 percent or less from the field, and 4-12 when opponents shoot better than that mark. Eastern is 12-4 when scoring 71 or more points, and 7-1 when allowing 70 or fewer.
* Finding consistency at home and on the road continues to be of prime importance for the Eagles at this juncture of the season. At home or on neutral courts this season, EWU is 11-2 and has averaged 81.1 points per game on 49.3 percent shooting from the field (43.1 percent from the 3-point line), while allowing 69.4 points per game on 42.8 percent shooting (32.5). But on opponent home courts where EWU is 2-11, the Eagles are averaging 71.5 points on 40.9 percent shooting (32.2), while opponents are scoring at an 81.1 clip and making 46.9 percent from the field (37.3). “It is a growing process to develop a team and get consistency of performance,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “We will be working on execution and a strong mindset, so that home or away, our shot selection and execution does not vary. The answer is very clear -- we need to put the ball in the basket with consistency. At the same time, we cannot have our mindset be that we will outscore teams. We need to first take a mindset of defensively stopping our opponent. We need to be better on defense.”
* In the Sagarin computer ratings through games of Feb. 20, Eastern is 225th to rank fourth among Big Sky teams. December opponents Connecticut (20th), Saint Mary’s (61st), UC Irvine (104th) and Seton Hall (88th) and are all ranked among the nation’s leaders. Weber State is the top Big Sky team at 166th, followed by Northern Colorado at 190th and Montana at 204th. Portland State is 10th in the Big Sky and 284th overall (out of 351 teams rated).
* Through games of Feb. 20, the Eagles are fourth in the Big Sky Conference and 214thin NCAA Division I (349 schools) in RPI. Northern Colorado was the top Big Sky school in the RPI at 148th, followed by Weber State at 177th and Montana at 187th. Portland State was 10th at 297th nationally.
* Ron Cox, who earned All-America recognition all four seasons he played basketball for Eastern, will have his No. 30 jersey retired in ceremonies taking place March 8 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The ceremony in his honor will take place at halftime of EWU’s home game versus Weber State, which starts at 2:05 p.m. Pacific time. Current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey is the only other Eastern player to have his jersey retired, and Cox’s No. 30 will now hang next to No. 3. Formerly from nearby Coulee City, Wash., Cox played four seasons for the Eagles from 1973-77. He had record totals of 1,741 points and 1,273 rebounds in leading Eastern to a 77-30 record and three Evergreen Conference titles. In his first two years playing for head coach Jerry Krause, the Eagles played in Memorial Fieldhouse along the East side of Washington Street. But the Special Events Center opened across the street in fall of 1975, and his final two seasons were played in the new facility (later additionally named Reese Court). In his senior season, in which the Eagles finished 25-4, Cox helped Eastern start a school-record 31-game home winning streak, which would continue until Dec. 8, 1978. Cox received his bachelor’s degree at Eastern in 1978 and his master’s degree in 1995. Drafted in the sixth round of the 1977 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a foot injury ended his professional career before it even started. Cox went on to a highly-successful high school coaching career which included 388 victories in 26 seasons. He was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998, and in 2011 was admitted to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Eagle Player Notes
* Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, had a career-high 29 points and 13 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season – and first since Jan. 27 – in EWU’s 85-74 victory at Southern Utah on Feb. 22. Jois made 10-of-16 shots from the field and 9-of-16 free throws as he eclipsed his previous career high of 22 set on two previous occasions. Jois now has 17 double-doubles in his career, but had gone his last six games without one after finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds at PSU on Jan. 27. He was recently selected by collegehoopsdaily.com to its All-Big Sky team for the first three months of the season. He is EWU’s second-leading scorer with a 13.3 average on 51.8 percent shooting from the field. He is also averaging a team-leading 8.1 rebounds, as well as 2.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. So far he has eight double-doubles this season. He had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I, and now has 17 in his 54-game career (52 as a starter). He is averaging 12.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game in his career, and holds the school record with 102 career blocks.
* In the last three games, junior point guard Drew Brandon has averaged 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists and only 1.3 turnovers per game for the Eagles, and made 22-of-25 free throws. He had 18 assists and just two turnovers in 75 minutes in EWU’s home sweep over Sacramento State and Northern Arizona – including performances of nine assists and one turnover in each game. He ranks among the league leaders in four categories. He has averages of 11.3 points (22nd), 6.8 rebounds (sixth), 5.5 assists (first) and an assist-to-turnover ratio of +2.2 (first) after his first 26 games in NCAA Division I. He already has five double-doubles, including a near-miss of a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds versus Montana State in a 77-72 win. He had a double double-double during one homestand this season -- he had 11 points and 13 rebounds versus North Dakota on Jan. 30, then had 15 points and 12 assists in a 94-90 overtime victory over Northern Colorado on Feb. 1. His 12 assists were a career high, and rank as the fourth-most in school history (the record is 18). He followed that with his fifth double figure rebounding game with 10 at Montana State on Feb. 6, then had a career-high 19 points at Montana two nights later. He equaled what is now the 16th-most assists in school history with 10 assists against Walla Walla and MSU. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists versus Washington on Nov. 17 in just his second D-I game. He was the lone newcomer to EWU’s opening night starting lineup.
* Now just eight 3-pointers from the school record of 103, Tyler Harvey is climbing the Big Sky list as well. His 95 are tied for seventh with Gabe Rogers from Northern Arizona (2013). Former BSC record holder Shannon Taylor from Eastern is third on the list with 103 in 1999, and the league record is 124 set by Stephen Sir of NAU in 2007.
* The combined NCAA Division I 3-point shooting rankings (through games of Feb. 30) of Tyler Harvey add up to 11 (5th in average made at 3.76 and 6th in percentage at 45.6), ranking him second nationally. The national leader is Ethan Wragge of Creighton with a total ranking of ninth (7th 3.42, 2nd 49.3). Karvel Anderson from Robert Morris has a total ranking of 13 (10th 3.29, 3rd 48.4).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Feb. 20, Tyler Harvey was fifth in 3-pointers made per game (3.76), sixth in 3-point percentage (45.6 percent), 11th in scoring (21.6) and 24th in free throw percentage (.882). Drew Brandon was 32nd in assists (5.6) and Venky Jois was 79th with seven double-doubles and 95th in rebounding (7.9).
* Individually, Tyler Harvey continues to lead the Big Sky in scoring (21.8), ahead of Montana’s Kareem Jamar (19.5), North Dakota’s Troy Huff (19.5) and Weber State’s Davion Berry (18.9). Venky Jois is 12th (13.3), Drew Brandon is 22nd (11.3) and Parker Kelly is 29th (10.1). Harvey and Jois are both sophomores, and no other sophomores or freshmen rank in the top 22. Harvey also leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.7) and free throw percentage (.880), and is second in 3-point field goal percentage (.455). Kelly is second in free throw percentage (.869). Brandon leads in assists (5.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.2) and ranks sixth in rebounding (6.8). Jois is third in blocked shots (1.4), third in rebounding (8.1) and ninth in field goal percentage (.518) and Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.659), fourth in blocked shots (1.3) and 14th in rebounding (4.9).
* In league only statistics, Tyler Harvey leads in scoring (23.6), 3-pointers made per game (3.7) and free throw percentage (.889). Drew Brandon is leading in assists (5.3), is second in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.2), sixth in rebounding (6.9) and 22nd in scoring (11.1). Venky Jois is 13th in scoring (13.9), second in rebounds (8.2) and third in blocked shots (1.3), Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.706) and third in blocked shots (1.3), and Parker Kelly is seventh in free throw percentage (.833).
* Eastern is 5-1 in the six games this season junior Martin Seiferth has scored in double figures, and 5-1 when he’s had at least nine rebounds. He has scored in double figures in four of EWU’s last six outings, including a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Sacramento State on Feb. 13. In his last six games, he is averaging 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds while making 69.2 percent of his shots from the field (27-of-39). For the season, he is averaging 6.8 points and 4.9 rebounds on 65.9 percent shooting. As a result, he is currently the school record holder for career field goal percentage at 63.5 percent, just ahead of Ron Cox (1974-77) at 62.9 percent. In his 57-game EWU career (53 as a starter), the Oregon transfer is averaging 7.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game.
* Junior Parker Kelly, a starter in EWU’s first 20 games this season and 17 in his sophomore season, came off the bench in three-straight games before starting again on Feb. 13 in an 85-72 win versus Sacramento State. He responded with a game-high 18 points, including 15 in the first half on 6-of-10 shooting in helping EWU open a 21-point lead. He then had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the 3-point stripe in EWU’s 84-65 win over Northern Arizona on Feb. 15. He is averaging 10.1 points and 35.2 minutes per game this season, and 8.0 points with 138 career 3-pointers (fifth in school history) in his 87-game career (41 as a starter).
* Sharp-shooting sophomore guard Tyler Harvey hit nine 3-pointers en route to a 37-point outing in EWU’s 84-65 win over Northern Arizona on Feb. 15, to go along with performances of 36 and 38 he’s had since Jan. 23. Now with three of the top 17 performances in school history, only Rodney Stuckey (45, 38, 36, 36) and David Peed (44, 37, 37) have accomplished that feat. Harvey’s nine 3-pointers against NAU were one from the school record he tied on Feb. 1 in his 38-point effort versus Northern Colorado.
* Not only is he the Big Sky’s leading scorer, but Eastern’s Tyler Harvey has become a dead-eye free throw shooter for the Eagles. A year ago in early February, Harvey was barely seeing the court for the Eagles. But he earned playing time at the end of the season, and has scored in double figures in 32 of EWU’s last 34 games, with a streak of 23 snapped versus North Dakota on Jan. 30. The sophomore made only 43.5 percent of his free throws as a freshman, but this season is leading the Big Sky in games overall (.880) and leads in league play (.889). He has made 87-of-96 (.906) in his last 10 outings, including a 13-of-13 effort at Northern Arizona on Jan. 16, a Big Sky and EWU record 20-of-20 versus Southern Utah on Jan. 23, an 8-of-8 in a 38-point effort versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 1 and an 11-of-11 effort at Montana on Feb. 8. “He had all the individual workout records for making free throws (last year), so we couldn’t figure out what it was,” recalled Hayford. “He really disciplined himself all year through the offseason to work on his foul shooting.”
* After missing six-straight games with an ankle injury, Ognjen Miljkovic averaged 19.7 points in his first three games back. He had 13 points and seven rebounds against Southern Utah (1/23/14) in his first career start, then had 32 points four days later against Portland State (1/27/14) to equal what is now the 31st-best performance in EWU history. He scored 10 of his points after halftime against SUU, including a go-ahead 3-pointer to start the second half that gave the Eagles the lead for good. He scored 17 in the first half versus PSU and made 11-of-13 shots from the field with four 3-pointers. He then scored 14 against North Dakota on Jan. 30. Miljkovic hadn’t played since scoring 15 points against Connecticut on Nov. 28. He is now averaging 8.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in an average of 18.8 minutes per game.
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey has now averaged 20.5 points per game in his last 34 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. In fact, his one-year improvement by 13.7 points per game ranks fifth in the nation. A year ago in EWU’s last eight games, he scored 132 points (16.5 average) on 55 percent shooting from the field (52-of-94, including 20-of-44 3-point attempts). In the first 13 games he played in the 2012-13 season, Harvey scored just 17 points (by contrast, in the first 13 games this season he scored 261 with an average of 20.1 per game). In his freshman season, he played in 21 of EWU’s 31 games and averaged 14.0 minutes and 7.1 points per game. He currently has a 15.2 career scoring average in 47 games (30 as a starter).
Eagle Records Watch
* Venky Jois has moved ahead of Martin Seiferth for the school record for career blocked shots. Jois has 102 and Seiferth has 101, as they both surpassed the former record of 99 set by Paul Butorac (2004-07).
* Martin Seiferth ranks first in school history in career field goal percentage (.639, ranking just ahead of Ron Cox at .629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently second in 3-point field goal percentage (45.0 percent) and eighth in 3-pointers made (118), and Parker Kelly is 10th in 3-point percentage (39.4 percent) and fifth in 3-pointers made (138). Kelly’s 83.4 percent shooting from the free throw line in his career would rank third in school history (the record is 84.9) if he had enough attempts to qualify (he has 145 and needs 174).
* With 95 3-pointers in 26 games, Tyler Harvey already ranks second in school history, and needs only eight to equal the school record. His average of 3.65 per game is on pace to finish with 113 (31 games) and break the record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999. Harvey has already scored 566 points to rank fifth in school history, and his 21.8 average currently is third behind only the averages of 24.6 and 24.2 that Rodney Stuckey had in the 2007 and 2006 seasons, respectively.
* En route to what is now the 11th-best scoring night in school history with 36 points, sophomore Tyler Harvey finished a perfect 20-of-20 from the free throw line in EWU’s 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). He broke the previous school and conference record of 16-of-16 by set by Jason Lewis against Weber State on Jan. 27, 2001. The NCAA record is 24-of-24. In addition, Harvey’s 20 charity shots tied the Big Sky record and broke the school mark of 17 set by Matt Piper against Humboldt State on Dec. 28, 1982. His free throw attempts were one shy of Piper’s 21 in that game. He also scored 38 against Northern Colorado (Feb. 1) and 37 versus Northern Arizona (Feb. 15) to rank sixth and eighth, respectively, in school history. Previously, Harvey opened league play with a 30-point effort against Weber State (1/2/14) when he equaled what is now the 42nd-best performance in school history. He scored 21 in the first half alone en route to equaling the career high of 30 he set in EWU’s victory on Nov. 29 versus Seattle.
* Eastern set a pair of school records for free throws by finishing 38-of-49 in a 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). The previous team record for made free throws was 34 set against Sacramento State (1/19/95) and Whitman (11/17/09), and the old mark for attempts was 48 versus Sacramento State (1/19/95).
Recent Game Recap
In Eastern’s most recent game, sophomore forward Venky Jois had a career-high 29 points and 13 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season to lead the Eagles to an 85-74 victory at Southern Utah on Feb. 22. Sophomore Tyler Harvey added 26 points for the Eagles and junior point guard Drew Brandon chipped in 16 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists. Harvey made 13-of-16 free throws and Brandon sank 8-of-10, and the Eagles finished 33-of-46 (72 percent) as a team. Jois made 10-of-16 shots from the field and 9-of-16 free throws as he eclipsed his previous career high of 22 set on two previous occasions. The Eagles led for all but 32 seconds of the game, and used runs of 11-0 and 9-0 in the second half en route to the team’s second road win in the last three outings. Eastern closed out the victory by making 12 free throws in the final 2:32 of a game that included 60 fouls and 79 free throw attempts between the two teams. And the Eagles did it by attempting only 12 3-pointers – making four – after entering the game with averages of 8.5 makes and 22.6 attempts per game. The Eagles had a dominating 36-20 advantage in points in the paint.
Quoting Coach Hayford
On Southern Utah Win: “We showed offensive patience and good execution. For us to shoot only six threes in each have shows we are maturing. We had great shots on our possessions and it resulted in a really good win. Venky obviously had an outstanding night. We thought we had an advantage at his position (four). And with Martin Seiferth being in foul trouble, Venky gave us a quickness advantage on some of their fives. He had a really good night.”
On Exceeding Win Totals of Last Season: “Our whole goal this year was to move this program forward. Our total wins are higher, our home wins are higher and our conference wins are higher. It just indicates that we are moving in the right direction. There is an asterisk next to all of this because we don’t have any seniors. We will keep growing as a team, and as each individual keeps committing to a consistency in their performance, I think we have the program headed in the right direction.”
On Honors Won Feb. 17 by Drew Brandon & Tyler Harvey: “Drew is playing complete games. He’s a defender, a rebounder, he runs our offense and he takes care of the ball. He is coming into his own. Tyler is being recognized for his great individual play that is leading to team success. I am very happy for him. He works hard and deserves the honor.”
On 3-Point Shooting: “We recruit to shoot. If players are three-point shooters, they want to come here. We let it fly and we are among the nation’s leaders in that. What we need to recognize is when they take away the three we need to balance that with attacking the rim. I think our guys are starting to find that balance. If they are going to let us shoot it, we’ll shoot it because we have some guys who are really good shooters.”
On Montana State Win: “We played a really complete game, especially on defense and on the boards. We shared the ball very well on offense. They were really keying on Tyler and he was able to run offense that got other guys baskets off the pressure they were putting on him. And he had only one turnover. He did a really good job of not forcing things. He did what he needed to do. We wanted to exert our will, and make it a game of our size over their speed. We established Martin early in the first half with 10 points, and he played really big. We followed a game plan for 40 minutes.”
On Northern Colorado Win After Losing 14-Point Lead: “Our guys stepped up and took victory out of the jaws of defeat instead of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. That is something we need to keep learning, so it was an important step for our program. We made it harder on ourselves than we had to, but maybe that is going to be good for us in the long run. The other thing is that we haven’t been in the situation enough where we have been up ten. The other team is going to throw everything at you. They are going to grab, fight, pull and kick. They are like a desperate person, and that is a big wave of energy coming at you. We have not had that many opportunities to understand that. Honestly, we failed it, but we regrouped in the last two minutes and got it done.”
On Tyler Harvey’s Performance Versus UNC: “To go 10-of-15 after going 1-of-8 on Thursday night shows that Tyler doesn’t lack any confidence. He believes in his game, and he believes in his teammates. He understands when he has a great shot it is his role to take it. There are a lot of players that would have come off of Thursday night and said, ‘Oh, I am not going to shoot it.’ He understands what his role is.”
On Tyler Harvey’s 36 Points Against Southern Utah: “Our game plan was to put the ball in his hands because he is making plays. The defense kept fouling him, and Tyler kept making the free throws. It is where we need to be in every part of our program. He made a commitment to developing that area of his game. He went from a really poor free throw percentage last year to setting the Big Sky and school record. I couldn’t be more pleased. He is a good player, he’s a great young man and he is only a sophomore.”
On Home Sweep Over Montana Schools: “We’re building a program and we’re doing it with players who are doing it together. It’s interesting to think about where we were against Montana last year, and their roster and our roster this season only changed by a couple of players. To see how that played out just showed me that we are gaining ground. Montana State is a mature team – they have as many seniors and upperclassmen as anybody. For us to compete with them shows me that as a program we are moving in the right direction. The games themselves were both won on defense. We took care of the ball really well against Montana and not so much against Montana State. But in both games we found a way to win, and the result could have gone either way with four minutes to play. I think that shows maturity because there were a number of games last year in which we were right there with four minutes to go, but weren’t finding ways to win. Being a year older, our players are finding a way to win and that is what has me encouraged.”
On Venky Jois: “It’s neat when you feel like you have one of the premier frontcourt players in the Big Sky Conference and he’s playing that way. I only expect more and more from him each night out as he continues growing. He’s had lots of playing time, so he has the minutes of a junior with sophomore eligibility. He’s a leader and we count on him.”
On Drew Brandon and Rebounding: “He’s a really good player. He went to the same junior college that Craig Fortier played at, so that’s how Craig knew about him. What I like about him is he is really unaffected – he’s going to play at his own speed and he plays hard. He’s one of the best rebounding guards I’ve ever coached. Drew is obviously a great addition to our program. We had all these pieces coming back, but we needed to go find a point guard. He certainly is meeting our expectations. Rebounding is something we better improve on from last year, or we will have the same results. Drew really helps us. He really helps us on the boards, and he knows how to run the offense. As he gets more comfortable, we are going to get better and better.”
On Team Identity: “Our identity is that as we are going to play smart and hard basketball, and we are going to do it together. You are going to see an unselfish team that lays it out on the court every night and plays like the band of brothers they are. The biggest difference (from last season) is our players are all a little bit older. We were Eagles that were barely out of the nest last year, and now we can fly a little bit.”
On This Year’s Eagle Team: “We have a great chemistry – they really like each other. A year ago they didn’t know one another. They have been living life together and they do a lot of things as a group. They enjoy spending time with one another, and I think that will spill over into on-court success.”
Other Season Notes
* Eastern is tied with Maine and Nicholls State for the most foreign players in NCAA Division I with seven (3 from Australia, 3 from Germany, 1 from Serbia).
* A year ago, mainly because of injuries, Eastern used 14 different starting lineups. Thus far, Eastern has used four.
* Eastern will be trying for its third Big Sky Conference Tournament berth in the last four years in 2013-14, and its 13th in 27 years as a member of the league. Eastern has 12 previous appearances (1990, 98, 99, 2000, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 11, 12).
* The Big Sky Conference Tournament will take place March 13-15 at the site of the regular season champion. For the second-straight year, it will now include seven teams, with the regular season champion receiving a first-round bye. The tournament will include a quarterfinal round with six of the teams playing, followed by semifinals and the championship game.
* Sensational sophomore guard Tyler Harvey joined junior point guard Drew Brandon as award winners on Feb. 17 after leading the Eagles to the important home sweep over Sacramento State (85-72) and Northern Arizona (84-65). Brandon was named by College Sports Madness as not only its Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, but its Mid-Major Player of the Week as well after a weekend highlighted by 18 assists with only two turnovers in 75 minutes of action. Harvey scored 53 points with 12 3-pointers in the sweep and was selected by the Big Sky Conference as its Player of the Week for the second time this season.
EWU vs. Portland State Series Notes
* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are now 18-19 versus the Vikings. All of the meetings have come since the 1996-97 school year when PSU joined the Big Sky Conference, and Eastern is 12-6 in Cheney and 6-12 against PSU in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) since then. Earlier this season, the Eagles fell 92-83 in Portland. A year ago, Eastern won 76-65 at home then lost 89-80 on the road.
* The Vikings, who won 78-76 in overtime in the 2011-12 season in Cheney and 69-64 in Portland, have a 22-19 edge in the overall series. Eastern owns a 13-7 record in Cheney and 6-14 mark in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) against the Vikings.
* Despite losing 10 of the last 12 meetings, the Eagles have still won 16 of the last 30 meetings. With a 65-61 home victory on Jan. 27, 2011, Eastern snapped a six-game losing streak to the Vikings. Before that, the last Eastern win in the series was a 58-57 home win over the Vikings on Dec. 22, 2007. Prior to that, Eastern had won five of the last six meetings and 11 of 14.
* Earlier this season, despite 70 percent shooting and a double-digit lead in the first 20 minutes, Eastern allowed Portland State to score 62 points in the second half and the Vikings knocked off Eastern 92-83 on Jan. 27 in Portland, Ore. Freshman Ognjen Miljkovic had 17 of his career-high 32 points in the first half to help EWU to a 10-point halftime lead, but the Eagles went nearly five minutes without a field goal to open the second half and let the Vikings back in the game. Thanks to 66 percent shooting in the second half by PSU and another more than four-minute stretch without a field goal by the Eagles, the Vikings pulled away for their seventh-straight victory in Portland over EWU. The Vikings closed out the win by making 14-of-16 free throws in the last 2:22 of the game, and EWU finished with a season-high 19 turnovers leading to a 35-11 PSU advantage in points off turnovers. Eastern finished at 49 percent for the game and lost for the first time in nine games when making at least 45 percent of its shots. Sophomore Tyler Harvey, the leading scorer in the Big Sky Conference with an average of 21.2 points per game entering the game, scored 18 for the Eagles. He made 4-of-9 3-point attempts, but was just 1-of-7 from inside the arc. Sophomore Venky Jois chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds, and junior point guard Drew Brandon finished with eight assists, eight points and seven rebounds.