Back in Position for a Playoff Berth, Eagles Play at Second-Place North Dakota
Eastern’s 80-66 road romp Thursday at another second-place team, Northern Colorado, improves EWU to 9-8 in the Big Sky with three games to play
Saturday, March 1 - Betty
Engelstad Sioux Center (3,064) - Grand Forks, N.D.
12:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (14-14/9-8 Big Sky) at North Dakota (13-14/10-7 Big Sky)
Thursday, March 6 - Reese Court (5,000)
- Cheney, Wash.
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington vs. Idaho State (10-16/7-10 Big Sky - host Sac State 3/1)
Shows take place at the Swinging Doors in Spokane at 6 p.m.
Mondays Jan. 13 to March 10, 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 download app).
TV: The EWU-UND Game is televised live
regionally by the MidCo Sports Network.
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). Live Stats at UND.
The tent was looking more like a lean-to, but the Eagles fixed that on Thursday and now seek their first Big Sky Conference road sweep in 10 years.
Coming off a Tyler Harvey-fueled 80-66 win over second-place Northern Colorado, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team now visits newly-anointed second-place North Dakota on Saturday (March 1) in a game that begins at 12:05 p.m. Pacific time. The game is broadcast regionally by the MidCo Sports Network, and the game is also carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com.
“I dedicate this win to everybody who didn’t fold their tent on us after Monday,” said Hayford of his team’s previous game, an 87-76 home loss to Portland State. “We had toughness and we didn’t back down. When we had adversity, we didn’t hang our heads. We stayed together.”
It was EWU’s sixth win in its last eight games – equaling the school’s best February record in 12 seasons. As a result, the Eagles are in position for the team’s first Big Sky road sweep since the 2003-04 season when the Eagles swept Montana and Montana State late in the year. Coupled with EWU’s win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22, the last time the Eagles have won two road games in a row in the same season came in 2003-04 when the Eagles opened the league season with five-straight league road wins en route to the league title.
“It’s fun to be in the race in such a great league, and fun to get a road win,” said Hayford.
But the Eagles will have to do it against a North Dakota team that handed EWU a 73-61 home loss on Jan. 30, a game in which Harvey was held to six points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field and 1-of-8 3-point attempts. He responded with 38 points and a school record 10 treys two days later against Northern Colorado, then had 31 points and seven 3-pointers in the rematch on Thursday (Feb. 27) to complete a season sweep over the Bears and hand UNC its first home loss in 14 outings this season.
“That should give us some motivation,” said Hayford of his team’s previous loss to UND. “They are a good team with a good coach. I have so much respect for our league. Every win is hard – this was a 14-point win at UNC and we were up double digits all of the second half, and it was still hard.”
Harvey set the school’s single season record for 3-pointers made on Thursday, giving him 104 for the season to eclipse the previous record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. The sophomore is now third in Big Sky Conference history, with the record of 124 owned by Northern Arizona’s Stephen Sir (2006-07 season).
Finishing with his sixth 30-point performance of the season, his record-breaking 104th trey came during a 9-0 run that gave the Eagles a 73-54 lead with 4:36 to play. The Eagles also led by as many as 16 in the first half (38-22) and 19 twice early in the second half (61-42 and 64-45).
Importantly, the victory gave the Eagles a season sweep over the Bears, which could come into play in tiebreakers at the end of the season. There are still 10 teams jockeying for seven spots in the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
The win moved the Eagles from a four-way tie for sixth into a four-way tie for fifth with a 9-8 Big Sky record (14-14 overall). If the season were to end today, Eastern would finish as the No. 5 seed and would face No. 4 Montana in the quarterfinals.
North Dakota, which defeated Portland State 83-73 on Thursday, is now in a second-place tie with UNC at 10-7. The Bears fell to 16-10 on the season while North Dakota improved to 13-14 on the year. Had EWU protected its home court on Monday, they would be in a three-way tie for second.
“Our guys are smart – they see it,” said Hayford of the deficiencies that cost his team the PSU game. “But unfortunately a lot of times they see it after the game and not necessarily when the game is going on. That is part of growing. They looked to make good things happen against Northern Colorado.”
Harvey has bumped his season average to 22.1 and his point total to 620 – fourth-most in school history and just six from moving into third. He has had performances of 31, 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 10 nationally in three categories, and his combined ranking of 10th in 3-pointers per game (4th, 3.71) and 3-point shooting percentage (6th, 46.0) lead NCAA Division I.
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, nine of the 11 league teams from second to 10th places are within three 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 are critical. Here is a quick glimpse of the league race, remaining games, sweeps and the current cutoff line of the top seven. If the season were to end today, in the current four-way tie for fifth, EWU would be the No. 5 seed because of its 4-2 record against tied teams. MSU is 2-2 amongst tied teams and would be No. 6. NAU and Sac State are both 2-3 and split their season series, thus, Sac’s win over WSU would give the Hornets the No. 6 seed. However, MSU still must play both NAU and Sac State, and the Lumberjacks still have a game to play against Weber State).
Weber State (13-4… NAU, @PSU, @EWU) – Sweeps over
UND, MSU; Not Swept.
*Northern Colorado (10-7… PSU, @UND, @SUU) – Sweeps over UM, NAU; Swept by EWU.
North Dakota (10-7… EWU, UNC, @SUU) – Sweep over ISU, NAU; Swept by WSU.
*Montana (9-7… SUU, MSU, @Sac, @NAU) – Sweep over ISU; Swept by UNC.
Eastern Washington (9-8…@UND, ISU, WSU) – Sweeps over MSU, UNC; Swept by PSU
Montana State (9-8… @UM, @NAU, @Sac) – Sweep over PSU; Swept by EWU, WSU
*Sacramento State (9-8… @ISU, UM, MSU) – No Sweeps; Not Swept.
Northern Arizona (9-8… @WSU, MSU, UM) – Sweeps over PSU, ISU; Swept by UNC, UND.
Portland State (8-9….@UNC, WSU, ISU) – Sweep over EWU; Swept by MSU, NAU.
*Idaho State (7-10… Sac, @EWU, @PSU) – No Sweeps; Swept by WSU, MSU, UM, NAU
*Win over Weber State.
* The Eagles concluded February with a 6-2 record, equaling the 2005-06 squad for the best record in that month since going 6-1 in the 2001-02 season. Eastern was 3-4 in February a year ago.
* At 14-14 overall, Eastern is already four victories better than last season (10-21) and has two more league wins as it had 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 6-11 and 9-19 at the same juncture a year ago when EWU failed to qualify. “We keep looking at player improvement and team improvement, and we need to keep pushing that needle forward,” said Jim Hayford. “If we continue to do that, our hope is that we’ll be a part of the league tournament.”
* Eastern head coach Jim Hayford hopes that 10 league victories would get his team to the postseason, but knows that in a year of balance and in the world of tiebreakers, a .500 team might just get left home this season. His team closes out the season with home games against Idaho State (March 6) and Weber State (March 8). “There is nothing I have ever seen like this,” he said. “I do know that if it was a 10-team tournament, there wouldn’t be a bad game out there. There is going to be a good team or two that gets left out of the tournament. That is tough.”
* Overall, the Eagles are now 9-3 at home, including a 6-2 mark during Big Sky play. The Eagles are 3-11 on opponent home courts, with the lone victories a 79-50 romp in Bozeman on Feb. 6, an 85-74 win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22 and an 80-66 victory in its next road game at Northern Colorado on Feb. 27. 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 (76.4), 3-pointers made per game (8.3), assists (13.7) and rebounds (36.5); are second defensive field goal percentage (.450); and are third in defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.349), assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.1) and in blocked shots (4.0). The Eagles are last in scoring defense (75.3), but allowed just 50 to Montana State on Feb. 6 and 66 on Feb. 27 to Northern Colorado – nearly 10 below their average of 74.7 which ranked second in the league.
* 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 1.7 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 69.0 percent to rank eighth in the Big Sky. The Eagles are shooting at a 71.8 percent clip in conference play (sixth).
* In league games only this season, EWU leads the Big Sky in scoring (76.9), 3-pointers made per game (8.2), assists (13.9) and rebounds (35.5). The Eagles are also second in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.2), but are last in points allowed (75.5).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Feb. 27, Eastern is ranked 22nd among 345 schools with an average of 8.3 3-pointers made per game, 57th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5 percent) and 51st in scoring offense (76.4).
* For the most part, 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 13-1 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 1-13 when it doesn’t. Also, the Eagles are 14-2 when making at least 45.0 percent of their shots, and 0-12 when they are under that mark. Eastern lost against Portland State on Feb. 24 despite out-shooting the Vikings 50.9 percent to 48.4 percent. In addition, EWU is 9-1 when it holds opponents to 44.4 percent or less from the field, and 5-13 when opponents shoot better than that mark. Eastern is 13-5 when scoring 71 or more points, and 8-1 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 11-3 and has averaged 80.7 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting from the field (42.3 percent from the 3-point line), while allowing 70.6 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting (33.6). But on opponent home courts where EWU is 3-11, the Eagles are averaging 72.1 points on 41.4 percent shooting (33.0), while opponents are scoring at an 80.0 clip and making 46.9 percent from the field (36.4). “It is a growing process to develop a team and get consistency of performance,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford earlier this season. “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. 27, Eastern is 225th to rank fourth among Big Sky teams. Weber State is the top Big Sky team at 167th, followed by Montana at 202nd and Northern Colorado at 205th. North Dakota is fifth in the Big Sky and 234th overall (out of 351 teams rated). Eastern’s December opponents Connecticut (23rd), Saint Mary’s (61st), Seton Hall (90th) and UC Irvine (95th) are all ranked among the nation’s leaders.
* Through games of Feb. 27, the Eagles are fourth in the Big Sky Conference and 212th in NCAA Division I (349 schools) in RPI. Weber State is the top league school at 159th, followed by Montana at 180th, Northern Colorado at 187th, EWU and North Dakota at 222nd nationally.
* With 232 3-pointers on the season, EWU is just 51 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 256. 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 619 (on pace to finish with 685).
* 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
* Now with a school-record 104 3-pointers on the season, Tyler Harvey is climbing the Big Sky list as well. He ranks third, just one behind second (105 by Cory Schwab from Northern Arizona in the 2000-01 season). Former BSC record holder Shannon Taylor from Eastern is now fourth on the list with 103 in the 1998-99 season, and the league record is 124 set by Stephen Sir of NAU in 2006-07.
* The combined NCAA Division I 3-point shooting rankings (through games of Feb. 27) of Tyler Harvey add up to 10 (4th in average made at 3.71 and 6th in percentage at 46.0), ranking him first nationally. Currently second is Ethan Wragge of Creighton with a total ranking of 11 (9th 3.37, 2nd 50.0). Karvel Anderson from Robert Morris has a total ranking of 16 (11th 3.30, 5th 46.7).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Feb. 27, Tyler Harvey was fourth in 3-pointers made per game (3.71), sixth in 3-point percentage (46.0 percent), 10th in scoring (22,1) and 24th in free throw percentage (.883). Drew Brandon was 42nd in assists (5.3) and Venky Jois is 65th with eight double-doubles and 94th in rebounding (7.9).
* Individually, Tyler Harvey continues to lead the Big Sky in scoring (22.1), ahead of North Dakota’s Troy Huff (19.6), Montana’s Kareem Jamar (19.5) and Weber State’s Davion Berry (19.0). Venky Jois is 12th (13.3) and Drew Brandon is 24th (11.0). Harvey and Jois are both sophomores, and no other sophomores or freshmen rank in the top 20. Harvey also leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.7) and free throw percentage (.883), and is second in 3-point field goal percentage (.460). Kelly is second in free throw percentage (.875). Brandon leads in assists (5.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.1) and ranks sixth in rebounding (6.7). Jois is third in blocked shots (1.4), fourth in rebounding (7.9) and ninth in field goal percentage (.526) and Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.667), fifth in blocked shots (1.2) and 14th in rebounding (5.0).
* In league only statistics, Tyler Harvey leads in scoring (24.0), 3-pointers made per game (3.8) and free throw percentage (.892). Drew Brandon is second in assists (5.2), is third in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.0), seventh in rebounding (6.6), eighth in free throw percentage (.831) and 27th in scoring (10.7). Venky Jois is 12th in scoring (13.9), third in rebounds (7.9) and third in blocked shots (1.4), and Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.713) and sixth in blocked shots (1.3).
* 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. He followed that with 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots against Portland State on Feb. 24. 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 (12th in the Big Sky) on 52.6 percent shooting from the field (ninth). He is also averaging a team-leading 7.9 rebounds (fourth), as well as 2.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game (third). 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 56-game career (54 as a starter). He is averaging 12.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game in his career, and holds the school record with 106 career blocks.
* Eastern is 5-2 in the seven 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 five of EWU’s last eight outings, including a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Sacramento State on Feb. 13. In his last eight games, he is averaging 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds while making 70.6 percent of his shots from the field (36-of-51). For the season, he is averaging 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds on 66.7 percent shooting. As a result, he is currently the school record holder for career field goal percentage at 64.3 percent, just ahead of Ron Cox (1974-77) at 62.9 percent. In his 59-game EWU career (55 as a starter), the Oregon transfer is averaging 7.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game. His 102 career blocked shots rank second in school history behind the 106 of teammate Venky Jois.
* In a home sweep on Feb. 13 and 15, junior point guard Drew Brandon 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 11.0 points (24th), 6.7 rebounds (sixth), 5.3 assists (first) and an assist-to-turnover ratio of +2.1 (first) after his first 28 games in NCAA Division I (all as a starter). 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.
* 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 9.8 points and 35.2 minutes per game this season, and 7.9 points with 139 career 3-pointers (fifth in school history) in his 89-game career (43 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 34 of EWU’s last 36 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 (.883) and leads in league play (.892). He has made 98-of-108 (.907) in his last 13 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 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in an average of 18.4 minutes per game.
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey has now averaged 21.5 points per game in his last 35 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. In fact, his one-year improvement by 14.4 points per game ranks third 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 15.4 career scoring average in 48 games (31 as a starter).
Eagle Records Watch
* With 104 3-pointers in 28 games, Tyler Harvey has broken the school record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999. His average of 3.71 per game is on pace to finish the regular season with 115 (31 games), nine behind the Big Sky record of 124. Harvey has already scored 620 points to rank fourth in school history, and his 22.1 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.
* Venky Jois has moved ahead of Martin Seiferth for the school record for career blocked shots. Jois has 106 and Seiferth has 102, 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 (.643, ranking just ahead of Ron Cox at .629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently second in 3-point field goal percentage (45.5 percent) and eighth in 3-pointers made (127), and Parker Kelly is 11th in 3-point percentage (39.0 percent) and fifth in 3-pointers made (139). Kelly’s 83.8 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 148 and needs 178).
* 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
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey set the school’s single season record for 3-pointers made en route to a 31-point effort and Eastern routed second-place Northern Colorado 80-66 on Feb. 27 in Greeley, Colo. Harvey made seven 3-pointers, giving him 104 for the season to eclipse the previous record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. His record-breaking 104th trey came during a 9-0 run that gave the Eagles a 73-54 lead with 4:36 to play. The Eagles also led by as many as 16 in the first half (38-22) and 19 twice early in the second half (61-42 and 64-45). The Eagles won for the sixth time in their last eight games in handing UNC its first home loss of the season in 14 tries. Sophomore Venky Jois was the only other Eagle in double figures with 10 points, with juniors Drew Brandon and Martin Seiferth each contributing seven points and six rebounds. True freshman Ognjen Miljkovic came off the bench to score 11 points for the Eagles, including a pair of 3-pointers to help EWU to 11 for the night. Sophomore point guard Daniel Hill played 18 minutes off the bench because of a hand injury suffered by Brandon, and responded with four assists and 6-of-8 free throws. Eastern held UNC to eight points below its season scoring average (74.7) and out-rebounded the Bears 35-25. Eastern finished at 49 percent for the game – including 42 percent from the 3-point stripe – and held UNC to 46 percent shooting overall and 4-of-16 from the arc.
Quoting Coach Hayford
On Tyler Harvey’s Record-Breaking Performance at UNC: “It’s becoming routine for Tyler -- a 31-point game and 7-of-11 from three. He is becoming a very, very special player.”
On UNC Win: “This is a great win and they were undefeated in home until we beat them. Our team showed great character to come back and play this way after Monday’s loss (at home to Portland State). This was our third game in five days. I’m just really proud of our team – we showed great character and great togetherness. We executed really well. Northern Colorado is a really good rebounding team and we owned the boards. It was a really good team win. We took great care of the ball and only had eight turnovers. And our shot selection from three was really wise.”
On PSU Loss: “I credit our opponent for a well-played game, and make no excuses. We looked tired. I don’t know if that had to do with getting back from Utah after a Saturday night game with a Monday game turnaround. We are young and strong, and we need to be better for that. We didn’t handle that well. I credit them, and I wish we were a little bit fresher tonight. We went inside and our two starting bigs had a great night. We need to find ways to get them the ball more. We did get Venky 15 shots. In both games their athleticism bothered us. The turnover differential in both games speaks about their athleticism, and they had great guard play in both games. I give them credit.”
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.
EWU vs. North Dakota Series Notes
* Eastern is 1-4 all-time against North Dakota, including losses last year in Grand Forks (65-47 on 1/17/13) and in Cheney (78-74 on 3/2/13). Those games were the first meetings since EWU moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. Eastern hadn’t played North Dakota since Dec. 11, 1982, when EWU lost 75-71 in Grand Forks. A year earlier, the Eagles beat North Dakota 81-72 in Cheney in the only other meeting between the two schools.
* Earlier this season, the Eagles battled used a 9-0 run to take a 45-44 lead with 12:30 play, but North Dakota responded with a 19-4 run and pulled away for a 73-61 Big Sky victory on Jan. 30 at Reese Court. A nearly six minute scoreless stretch was the deciding factor in UND’s run, just after Eastern had rallied from a six-point halftime deficit by holding UND scoreless for 4:33. The Eagles had 16 turnovers and made only 37.7 percent of their shots from the field. Three players scored in double figures for Eastern, including a double-double by point guard Drew Brandon with 11 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Venky Jois added 16 points, five boards and a pair of blocked shots, and freshman Ognjen Miljkovic added 14 points and seven boards after scoring 32 three days earlier at Portland State. The game matched the top two individual scorers in the league, with North Dakota’s Troy Huff owning a 19.9 average entering the game to rank second behind the 20.0 average of EWU Tyler Harvey. Huff finished with 15 while Harvey had just seven on 3-of-12 shooting from the field. Harvey’s string of 23-straight games scoring in double figures came to an end.