Berth on the Line When Eastern Hosts Idaho State & Weber State
Most likely, tightly-contested race for seven league berths won’t be settled until about 9 p.m. Saturday night
Thursday, March 6 - Reese Court (5,000)
- Cheney, Wash.
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (14-15/9-9 Big Sky) vs. Idaho State (11-16/8-10 Big Sky)
Saturday, March 8 - Reese Court (5,000)
- Cheney, Wash.
2:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington vs. Weber State (16-10/13-5 Big Sky - play at PSU on 3/6)
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.
Talk about coming down to the wire.
The postseason hopes of the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team most likely will come down to winning a pair of home games this week, as the Eagles host Idaho State on Thursday (March 6) at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time before concluding the regular season against Big Sky Conference leader Weber State on Saturday (March 8) at 2:05 p.m. Both games will be carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com.
But even then, the Eagles may not know if they’ve advanced to the seven-team Big Sky Conference Tournament until about five hours later, after the rest of the league games conclude. Eastern enters the week in a three-way tie for seventh in the Big Sky at 9-9, but only three games separate second through 10th place in the standings. The Eagles can finish anywhere from second in the league to 10th.
Eastern played three games in six days last week, starting with a disappointing 87-76 home loss to Portland State. But the Eagles came back three days later to knock-off then-second place Northern Colorado 80-66 on its home court, then lost to the new owner of second place, North Dakota, 69-67 on a rebound basket at the buzzer.
“We need to defend our home court – if we had done that on Monday we’re sitting here at 10-8 and not 9-9,” said Hayford. “Who knows how it’s all going to finish up? There are going to be some crazy games in the Big Sky the rest of the season that will come down to the last second too. It’s all a part of being in a league race. We need to win our way in.”
Idaho State is also in a must-win and hope situation entering Thursday’s game, and is now 8-10 in the league and 11-16 overall. Weber State is leading the league at 13-5 and is 16-10 overall, but WSU has lost three of its last five games heading into Thursday’s game at Portland State. The Wildcats have clinched at least a share of the league title, and have also wrapped up host status of the tournament taking place March 13-15.
There are far too many potential ties and tiebreaker situations to even list the scenarios that exist. So while the Eagles control their own destiny to a top seven finish, there exists the possibility that as many as eight teams could finish 11-9 and one or two of them could be left out of the tournament because of tiebreakers.
“What you want is to have a team that knows that every game you play matters,” said Hayford of his senior-less team. “And we are headed into a weekend on our home court where every game does matter. We need fans to come out and cheer them on. Our destiny is in our own hands on our home court.”
Eastern has played its last 1 1/2 games without starting point guard Drew Brandon, who missed the UND game with a hand injury suffered against UNC. Although the hand is not broken, Brandon is questionable this week.
Sophomore Tyler Harvey had 31 points and seven 3-pointers to lead EWU to a season sweep over the Bears and hand UNC its first home loss in 14 outings this season. Against UND, sophomore Venky Jois and junior Martin Seiferth both contributed double-doubles as they combined for 35 points and 26 rebounds.
“We just played a team with seven seniors who have started a lot of games,” said Hayford of UND. “And we played it without our point guard and took it right down to the buzzer. I was proud of our team – they laid it all out there and gave it all they had.”
Harvey set the school’s single season record for 3-pointers made against UNC, giving him 104 for the season to eclipse the previous record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. Now with 105 after the UND game, Harvey is tied for second in Big Sky Conference history (Cory Schwab, Northern Arizona, 2000-01) and 19 behind the league record of 124 (Stephen Sir, Northern Arizona, 2006-07).
Harvey enters this week ranked in the top 10 nationally in three categories, and his combined ranking of 12th in 3-pointers per game (6th, 3.62) and 3-point shooting percentage (6th, 45.3) is second in NCAA Division I. His 21.8 scoring average ranks 10th.
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 victories over league champion 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. Eastern could finish as high as second and as low as 10th. But in the inevitable possibility of ties, because of season sweeps Eastern would want to be tied with MSU and/or UNC, but not PSU and/or UND. If the season were to end today, in the current three-way tie for seventh (EWU, Sac State, PSU), EWU would finish ninth because of its 1-3 record against tied teams. PSU is 3-1 amongst tied teams and would be No. 7, and Sac State is 2-2 and would be eighth. In MSU falls at Montana on Monday night, there is a four-way tie at 9-9 for sixth and that scenario would place MSU at No. 6 (3-2 amongst tied teams), PSU at No. 7 (3-3 with a sweep over EWU), EWU at No. 8 (3-3) and Sac State at No. 9 (2-3). The Bobcats and Hornets end the season against each other on Saturday in Sacramento.
Weber State (13-5…@PSU, @EWU) – Sweeps over UND,
MSU; Not Swept.
North Dakota (11-7…UNC, @SUU) – Sweeps over ISU, NAU, EWU; Swept by WSU.
*Montana (10-7…MSU, @Sac, @NAU) – Sweep over ISU; Swept by UNC.
*Northern Colorado (10-8…@UND, @SUU) – Sweeps over UM, NAU; Swept by EWU, PSU
*Northern Arizona (10-8…MSU, UM) – Sweeps over PSU, ISU; Swept by UNC, UND.
Montana State (9-8… @UM, @NAU, @Sac) – Sweep over PSU; Swept by EWU, WSU
Portland State (9-9….WSU, ISU) – Sweep over EWU, UNC; Swept by MSU, NAU.
*Sacramento State (9-9…UM, MSU) – No Sweeps; Not Swept.
Eastern Washington (9-9…ISU, WSU) – Sweeps over MSU, UNC; Swept by PSU, WSU.
*Idaho State (8-10… @EWU, @PSU) – No Sweeps; Swept by WSU, MSU, UM, NAU
*Win over Weber State.
* Eastern is 6-3 in its last nine games, and has made 49.5 percent of its shots overall (240-of-485 and 42.8 percent from the 3-point stripe (81-of-189). Eastern is averaging 80.8 points per game in those games, with sophomore Tyler Harvey averaging 25.0 points on 50.0 percent shooting from 3-point range (38-of-76).
* 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.
* In the 2003-04 season when EWU won Big Sky regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, the league had a similar logjam. Entering the final weekend of action, six teams were tied for second at 6-7, and last-place Portland State was 5-8 and in the running to finish as high as fifth.
* The UNC victory was EWU’s sixth win in its last eight games – equaling the school’s best February record in 12 seasons. The Eagles then came up just short of their 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 two-game road winning streak was Eastern’s first since 2003-04 when the Eagles opened the league season with five-straight league road wins en route to the league title.
* A year ago, late-season home losses to North Dakota and Northern Colorado were the fatal blows that cost the Eagles a berth in the tournament. Last week, they had hoped to shock the league with a road sweep. “In the big picture, last year we lost two one-possession games at home against North Dakota and Northern Colorado when they all were freshmen and sophomores,” said head coach Jim Hayford. “We really challenged them and we wanted to show the world just how much better we are by beating them both on the road. We beat Northern Colorado handily, and then without our starting point guard we took North Dakota down to the final buzzer. We’re growing up and we’re good – we just need to get a little better.”
* At 14-15 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 6-12 and 9-20 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 had hoped 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 or better team might will in all likelihood get left home this season. “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 3-12 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 (76.1), 3-pointers made per game (8.2), assists (13.6) and rebounds (36.7); and are second in defensive field goal percentage (.449), defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.347) and blocked shots (4.1). The Eagles are last in scoring defense (75.1), 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 1.9 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 68.2 percent to rank ninth in the Big Sky. The Eagles are shooting at a 70.4 percent clip in conference play (ninth).
* In league games only this season, EWU leads the Big Sky in scoring (76.4), 3-pointers made per game (8.0), assists (13.6) and rebounds (35.7). The Eagles are also second in defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.349) and blocked shots (4.1), but are last in points allowed (75.2).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of March 2, Eastern is ranked 24th among 345 schools with an average of 8.2 3-pointers made per game, 60th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.4 percent) and 57th in scoring offense (76.1).
* 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 13-2 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 1-13 when it doesn’t. Also, the Eagles are 14-3 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 and fell to North Dakota on March 1 despite a 49.0 to 41.4 advantage. In addition, EWU is 9-2 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 8-2 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 3-12, the Eagles are averaging 71.8 points on 41.9 percent shooting (33.0), while opponents are scoring at a 79.3 clip and making 46.5 percent from the field (35.9). “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 March 2, Eastern is 223rd to rank fourth among Big Sky teams. Weber State is the top Big Sky team at 169th, followed by Montana at 198th and Northern Colorado at 214th. North Dakota is fifth in the Big Sky and 236th overall and Idaho State is ninth in the league and 247th overall (out of 351 teams rated). Eastern’s December opponents Connecticut (20th), Saint Mary’s (66th), Seton Hall (89th) and UC Irvine (101st) are all ranked among the nation’s leaders.
* Through games of March 2, the Eagles are fifth in the Big Sky Conference and 220th in NCAA Division I (349 schools) in RPI. Weber State is the top league school at 181st, followed by Montana at 193rd, North Dakota at 210th, Northern Colorado at 212th and EWU. Idaho State is 10th in the Big Sky and 288th nationally.
* With 237 3-pointers on the season, EWU is just 46 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 253. 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 105 3-pointers on the season, Tyler Harvey has climbed to second on the Big Sky list (along with 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 March 2) of Tyler Harvey add up to 12 (6th in average made at 3.62 and 6th in percentage at 45.3), ranking him second nationally. Currently first is Ethan Wragge of Creighton with a total ranking of 10 (8th 3.36, 2nd 49.2) and Karvel Anderson from Robert Morris has a total ranking of 14 (10th 3.32, 4th 46.4).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of March 2, Tyler Harvey is fourth in 3-pointers made per game (3.62), sixth in 3-point percentage (45.3 percent), 10th in scoring (21.8) and 23rd in free throw percentage (.883). Drew Brandon is 41st in assists (5.3) and Venky Jois is 53rd with nine double-doubles and 91st in rebounding (8.0).
* Individually, Tyler Harvey continues to lead the Big Sky in scoring (21.8), ahead of Montana’s Kareem Jamar (19.7), North Dakota’s Troy Huff (19.4) and Weber State’s Davion Berry (19.1). Venky Jois is 11th (13.6) and Drew Brandon is 24th (11.0). Harvey and Jois are both sophomores, and no other sophomores or freshmen rank in the top 19. Harvey also leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.6) and free throw percentage (.883), and is third in 3-point field goal percentage (.453). 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 (8.0) and ninth in field goal percentage (.528), and Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.674), fourth in blocked shots (1.3) and 12th in rebounding (5.4).
* In league only statistics, Tyler Harvey leads in scoring (23.3) and 3-pointers made per game (3.7), and is second in free throw percentage (.892). Drew Brandon is second in assists (5.1), 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 10th in scoring (14.4), third in rebounds (8.1) and third in blocked shots (1.4), and Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.721) and fourth in blocked shots (1.3).
* Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds versus North Dakota, and also finished with three steals and a pair of blocked shots. 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 13.6 average (11th in the Big Sky) on 52.8 percent shooting from the field (ninth). He is also averaging a team-leading 8.0 rebounds (fourth), as well as 2.3 assists and 1.4 blocks per game (third). So far he has nine double-doubles this season. He had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I, and now has 18 in his 57-game career (55 as a starter). He is averaging 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game in his career, and holds the school record with 108 career blocks.
* Eastern is 5-3 in the seven games this season junior Martin Seiferth has scored in double figures, and 5-2 when he’s had at least nine rebounds. He has scored in double figures in six of EWU’s last nine outings, including a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds against North Dakota on March 1. In his last nine games, he is averaging 10.1 points and 8.0 rebounds while making 71.9 percent of his shots from the field (41-of-57). For the season, he is averaging 7.2 points and 5.4 rebounds on 67.4 percent shooting. As a result, he is currently the school record holder for career field goal percentage at 64.7 percent, just ahead of Ron Cox (1974-77) at 62.9 percent. In his 60-game EWU career (56 as a starter), the Oregon transfer is averaging 7.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. His 106 career blocked shots rank second in school history behind the 108 of teammate Venky Jois.
* Eastern has played its last 1 1/2 games without starting point guard Drew Brandon, who missed the North Dakota game with a hand injury suffered against Northern Colorado. 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). In a home sweep on Feb. 13 and 15, 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 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 9.5 points and 34.5 minutes per game this season, and 7.9 points with 139 career 3-pointers (fifth in school history) in his 90-game career (44 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. He had 31 points and seven more 3-pointers in the rematch versus UNC on Feb. 27, giving him a total of 69 points and 17 treys in a season sweep over UNC for the Eagles.
* 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 35 of EWU’s last 37 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 8.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in an average of 18.5 minutes per game.
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey has now averaged 21.2 points per game in his last 36 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. In fact, his one-year improvement by 14.1 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 15.6 career scoring average in 50 games (33 as a starter).
Eagle Records Watch
* With 105 3-pointers in 28 games, Tyler Harvey has broken the school record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999. His average of 3.62 per game is on pace to finish the regular season with 112 (31 games), 12 behind the Big Sky record of 124. Harvey has already scored 631 points to rank third 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.
* Venky Jois has moved ahead of Martin Seiferth for the school record for career blocked shots. Jois has 108 and Seiferth has 106, 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 (.647, ranking just ahead of Ron Cox at .629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently second in 3-point field goal percentage (44.9 percent) and eighth in 3-pointers made (128), and Parker Kelly is 11th in 3-point percentage (38.9 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
* In Eastern’s most recent game, North Dakota senior Troy Huff had a rebound basket at the buzzer to give second-place North Dakota a 69-67 victory over the Eagles on UND’s Senior Day (March 1) in Grand Forks, N.D. The game was a thriller to the very end, and featured a season-high 11 ties for EWU and three lead changes. Eastern played the game without starting point guard Drew Brandon, who missed the game with a hand injury suffered in EWU’s previous game. Eastern’s 13 missed free throws and 16 turnovers offset EWU’s 49 percent shooting from the field and a 40-33 rebounding edge. Eastern trailed by 66-59 with 2:13 to play, but rallied to knot the score at 67 on a 3-pointer by Tyler Harvey with 15.5 seconds remaining. Tyler Harvey has just 11 points, but also finished with six assists and four rebounds. Venky Jois finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Martin Seiferth made 5-of-6 shots and finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Jois also had two blocked shots and three steals, and Seiferth had four blocks and a pair of thefts. Freshman Ognjen Miljkovic added 13 points for EWU on 4-of-7 shooting. However, Eastern’s best free throw shooters are its guards, and EWU’s inside players took the majority of shots en route to a 12-of-25 performance.
* In EWU’s most recent victory, 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 UND Game: “It was a great basketball game and we played through a lot of adversity. We had to overcome Drew’s injury and played an emotion-filled team in North Dakota, plus we had a quick turnaround from playing on Thursday. Our players had it right there until the final buzzer. I wish we could have gotten it to overtime because I thought we had grabbed momentum. We’re getting better and we’re growing, and we’re coming back home 9-9. We’ll put all of our attention now to Idaho State. I don’t know if we could have played any better with all the adversity and without our point guard. I’m proud of how our team took this trip on.”
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.”
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 regular season champion Weber State. For the second-straight year, it will now include seven teams, with Weber State 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. Idaho State Series Notes
* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 37-27 against the Bengals, including a 25-7 record in Cheney and an 11-19 mark in Pocatello (1-1 on neutral courts). Eastern has won the last 11 meetings in Cheney, dating back to a 65-63 Bengal win at EWU on March 1, 2003, and three of the last four meetings in Pocatello.
* Until losing earlier this season in Pocatello, the Eagles had won eight consecutive games in the series, dating back to the last win for ISU on Jan. 22, 2010 (79-71 in Pocatello). Eastern has won 26 of the past 36 meetings against the Bengals, including a sweeps in the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. In the 2010-11 season, both meetings took place within eight days of each other and the Eagles won 83-70 in Cheney on Jan. 29, 2011, and then were victorious 69-67 in Pocatello on Feb. 5, 2011. The same thing happened in EWU’s sweep in the 2011-12 season when the Eagles won twice in a six-day span, including an 85-78 win in Pocatello on Feb. 23 followed by a 77-64 victory in Cheney on Feb. 28. The teams met again just four days later on March 3 in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Championships, with EWU winning in Cheney 81-75 – meaning all three games were played in a nine-day span -- Eastern also recorded season sweeps in the 2001-02, 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, and again in 2012-13 (57-54 in Cheney on Dec. 22 and 87-73 in Pocatello on March 7).
* Idaho State swept the Eagles in the regular season in 2002-03, but Eastern won the third meeting by a 76-67 score in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament. In the 2009-10 season, Eastern lost at Idaho State 80-74 but won 79-71 in Cheney where the season ended for both teams.
* Eastern, which lost eight-straight games to ISU from 1993 to 1997, leads in the all-time series 40-28 (27-6 in Cheney, 12-21 in Pocatello, 1-1 neutral).
EWU vs. Weber State Series Notes
* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 20-43 against Weber State (20-44 all-time). The Eagles are 14-15 in Cheney, 4-28 in Ogden and 2-0 on neutral courts versus the Wildcats since 1983-84. The only other game in the series was an 83-65 loss in Ogden on Dec. 14, 1978, making EWU 4-28 in Ogden all-time.
* Weber State has won the last six meetings and 11 of the last 12. Until winning 75-59 in Ogden on March 2, 2011, the Eagles had lost the previous five meetings. The Eagles have won 14 of the last 39 meetings after losing nine-straight from 1992-1996.
* Eastern has defeated the Wildcats three times in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament (72-53 in 2004, 62-57 in 2002 and 83-67 in 1990). Besides the 2011 victory, Eastern’s lone victories in Ogden came in 2006 (76-73), 2001 (81-70) and 2000 (90-78). In 2000, Eastern snapped the Wildcats' 30-game home winning streak, which at the time was the fourth longest in NCAA Division I.