Feb. 8, 2008
For three-straight weeks the Big Sky Conference Men's Basketball Game of the Week has been decided in the final seconds. Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona might just make it a fourth.
The Eagles and Lumberjacks meet Sunday (Feb. 10) at 1 p.m. Pacific time in Flagstaff, Ariz., in the "Game of the Week" on Altitude Sports and Entertainment. Bill Riley will handle play-by-play duties with Jeff Friedman providing color commentary.
The game will also air live on KSKN The CW22 in Spokane and Comcast Sports Net Northwest out of Portland. Altitude Sports & Entertainment will replay the game Monday at 2 p.m., and again at 1 p.m. Mountain.
Northern Arizona, which beat Eastern Washington 79-75 earlier this season in Spokane, is looking to snap a three-game skid. The Lumberjacks bring a 6-4 conference record and a 14-9 overall record into Sunday's matchup.
Mike Adras' Lumberjacks are led by senior center Kyle Landry, who ranks second in the Big Sky in scoring at 17.5 points per game and second in rebounding at 8.5 rebounds per game.
Eastern Washington is battling for a spot in the postseason tournament. The Eagles snapped a four-game losing streak with a 59-57 victory on Thursday at Sacramento State. Kirk Earlywine's Eagles are 4-7 in league and 8-16 overall.
EWU senior forward Kellen Williams leads the Big Sky with 10 double-doubles. He recorded his 10th with 16 points and 13 rebounds in Eastern's win over Sacramento State.
Altitude will televise a Big Sky Game of the Week every Sunday until Feb. 24. All remaining regular season games will begin at 2 p.m. Mountain.
Altitude's coverage of Big Sky basketball won't end with the regular season. The network also plans to carry one of the Big Sky Championship semifinals live on March 11, while the other semifinal will be shown tape delay. The network will also televise the women's basketball championship live on March 15 at 5 p.m. Mountain.
Altitude is available within a 10-state territory of the Rocky Mountain Region including: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Northern New Mexico, Northeast Nevada and Southwest South Dakota Altitude is also available on DirecTV channel 644 and Dish Network channel 410.
Altitude and the Big Sky Conference will work to make the feeds available to local networks in Sacramento, Calif., Flagstaff, Ariz., Cheney, Wash., and Portland, Ore., when teams from those markets appear in the package.
2007-08 Altitude Sports & Entertainment Big Sky Conference Game of the Week
Sunday, Dec. 30 @Northern Arizona 86, Northern Colorado 70
Sunday, Jan. 6 @Northern Colorado 55, Weber State 52
Sunday, Jan. 13 Portland State 71, @Idaho State 61
Sunday, Jan. 20 Weber State 68@Montana 67
Sunday, Jan. 27 @Idaho State 69, Weber State 67
Sunday, Feb. 3 Montana 59, @Eastern Washington 57
Sunday, Feb. 10 Eastern Washington at Northern Arizona 1:00
Sunday, Feb. 17 Sacramento State at Montana State 1:00
Sunday, Feb. 24 Montana at Idaho State 1:00
Tuesday, March 11 Tournament Semifinal Game TBA
*All Times Pacific
Altitude Sports & Entertainment is a regional sports and entertainment network. Altitude is the television home of the Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Rapids (MLS), Colorado Mammoth (NLL) and Colorado Eagles (CHL). The collegiate line-up includes contests from the Big Sky, Big 12, WAC, Big East and RMAC. In addition, Altitude offers entertainment and community programming from music to theatrical performances, as well as boxing, rodeo, auto racing, golf, skiing and extreme sports, and a series of outdoor and lifestyle shows. Altitude is available on Dish Network channel 410, and DirecTV channel 644. For more information, visit www.altitude.tv.
More About the EWU-NAU Matchup . . .
The Lumberjacks were in the Big Sky Conference lead until dropping their last three games -- 80-77 at Northern Colorado on Jan. 31, 69-67 to Idaho State on Jan. 27 and, most recently, 71-68 Thursday (Feb. 7) at home. Portland State became the sixth league team to win at least two road games as they prevailed over NAU in a battle for the Big Sky lead.
"And I thought we were in the Hornets Nest tonight," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine following his team's 59-57 road victory against Sacramento State played at the facility named the Hornets Nest. "We are going to play a ticked-off group of guys in Flagstaff on Sunday. We better be ready. We can't get ourselves down by 20 points on the road like we did against them at home and have a chance to win. We have to go in there and make sure that we throw the first punch. We need to get after them in the first four minutes -- I think that will be important."
Against Northern Arizona on Jan. 3, the Lumberjacks scored the first 10 points of the game and led 42-29 at halftime before holding off EWU's comeback attempt. Stanojevic had a career-high 21 points with five three-pointers, DeLeon scored 15 and Williams and Gibson each contributed 11 points. Kyle Landry paced the Lumberjacks with 22 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Josh Wilson had 15 points and four assists.
Northern Arizona's 6-foot-9 Kyle Landry ranks second in the league in both scoring (17.5) and rebounding (8.5), and is third in field goal percentage (.586). Point guard Josh Wilson leads the league in assists (5.7) and is 14th in scoring (11.5). Nate Geiser leads the league in three-pointers made per game (2.4) and is 19th in scoring (10.0).
Northern Arizona leads the league in several categories, including scoring margin (+5.0), field goal percentage (.480), field goal percentage defense (.421) and rebounding margin (+5.0). With the exception of field goal percentage, all of those figures went down as a result of the PSU loss.
Eastern features two of the Big Sky Conference's top nine leading scorers in senior Kellen Williams (sixth, 13.4) and Adris DeLeon (ninth, 12.3). Williams is also third in rebounding (8.5), eighth in field goal shooting (.506), 13th in steals (1.08) and first in minutes played (35.4). DeLeon is also sixth in assists (3.1) and eighth in free throw percentage (.779).
In addition, Milan Stanojevic leads the Big Sky with a total of 58 three-pointers made (2.3 per game to rank third) and ranks 24th in scoring (8.5). Brandon Moore, who had his first career double-double against Montana and then had 11 points and five rebounds versus Sac State, is 12th in rebounding (5.4) and 10th in blocked shots (0.68).
Eastern's top team rankings are second in three-pointers made per game (7.6), second in turnover margin (+1.00 per game), third in free throw shooting (.727) and third in scoring defense (67.2). Eastern, with seven or less turnovers in three of its last six games, is second in the league in turnovers committed with an average of only 13.5 per game.
Eastern, with six players who had never played NCAA Division I basketball before -- let alone a Big Sky Conference game -- was 3-2 in the Big Sky before going on its recent four-game skid. At that time, Eastern was 8-12 overall and had won seven of its last 14 games after a 1-5 start to the season.
Before beating Sac State, Eastern's last victory was 91-85 overtime victory over Northern Colorado on Jan. 17. Besides beating UNC, Eastern's league victories were home wins versus Sacramento State (76-52 on Jan. 5) and Portland State (58-57 on Dec. 22). The Eagles versus Vikings league match-up represented the earliest BSC start in school history for EWU. Portland State was picked to finish third in both preseason polls.
Eastern is coming off a 15-14 finish to the 2006-07 season as the last three EWU seasons have yielded a collective record of 38-49. The Eagles had their string of consecutive Big Sky Conference Tournament berths snapped at nine last season as EWU finished with an 8-8 league record.
EWU-NAU Series History (Since 1983-84): Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 20-28 versus Northern Arizona, including a 6-16 record in Flagstaff, Ariz., 13-11 in Cheney and 1-1 on neutral courts. Eastern trails in the all-time series 20-29 (6-16 in Flagstaff, 13-12 in Cheney, 1-1 neutral).
Eastern had won six-straight games against the Lumberjacks and nine of the last 11 until falling 77-64 in Flagstaff on Feb. 5, 2005. The Lumberjacks beat EWU 105-95 on Jan. 5, 2006, in a game in which Eastern's Rodney Stuckey scored a school-record 45 points. Eastern defeated the Lumberjacks 73-61 in Cheney on Feb. 4, 2006, but lost twice in the 2006-07 season -- 109-101 in Flagstaff and 91-80 in Cheney.
Until a 72-65 victory in Flagstaff in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern had lost nine-straight meetings there since Feb. 16, 1991. Coupled with a win later in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern swept the regular season meetings with the Lumberjacks for the first time in 10 years. Eastern duplicated that feat in 2003 and 2004.
Earlier This Season - Northern Arizona 79, Eastern Washington 75: Northern Arizona grabbed a key rebound in the final seconds to spoil Eastern Washington University's rally from a 20-point deficit as the Eagles fell to the Lumberjacks 79-75 in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game Jan. 3 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Behind a career-high 21 points by Milan Stanojevic and three other players in double figures, Eastern rallied from a 20-point deficit in the second half. Eastern trailed by just three and forced NAU to miss a long shot, but Kyle Landry grabbed the rebound after it bounced off several players. He was immediately fouled and sank one free throw with 7.5 seconds left to secure the victory in an early-season battle for first place in the league standings.
"What we did in the first half and early in the second half so far overshadows that home run effort the last five minutes," said Eagle head coach Kirk Earlywine, "that I can't even be pleased."
Stanojevic made 7-of-11 shots from the field, including 5-of-9 three-pointers. He scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the first half, but the rest of the team made just 7-of-24 as the Eagles fell behind 42-29 at halftime. Eastern out-scored NAU 46-37 in the second half, including 41-26 in the last 15:04 and 30-17 in the final 9:50.
Adris DeLeon came off the bench to score 15 points, including 12 in the second half, to go along with four assists. Kellen Williams chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds and Gary Gibson also contributed 11 points -- all in the second half.
Eastern made only 38 percent of its shots in the first half when it also had 10 turnovers and fell behind 10-0. But the Eagles made 52 percent in the second half to finish at 44 percent for the game. Northern Arizona finished at 55 percent, including 60 percent in the first half.
Landry led NAU with 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 8-of-12 free throws. He also had seven rebounds and three steals. Point guard Josh Wilson added 14 points and four assists.
"Brandon Moore did a pretty good job of guarding (Landry), unfortunately, he was in foul trouble," said Earlywine of his 6-foot-9 post, who played just 17 minutes before fouling out. "That, the 10-0 start and our turnovers were the story of the game."
"When Brandon is in foul trouble we have a very limited post game so we need to make shots on the perimeter and we didn't do that," he added. "We have been shooting extra but we still didn't shoot well the first half even though we had open looks."
Northern Arizona jumped out to a 10-0 lead and Eastern came no closer than seven the rest of the half. In fact, Eastern came no closer than seven until there was just 1:08 left in the game.
"I just got done telling our guys you can't come out and turn the ball over 10 times in the first half and spot them a 10 point lead just because you are not ready to play," Earlywine said. "You especially cannot do it against a team as good as Northern Arizona."
The Lumberjacks out-scored EWU 9-2 to start the second half and open a 51-31 advantage. But Eastern used a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 11. NAU re-gained a 17-point advantage before the Eagles made their final surge.
A 15-4 run cut the lead to six with 6:06 remaining, then Eastern took advantage of four missed NAU free throws down the stretch. Eastern went on an 8-1 run and cut the lead to 78-75 with 48 seconds left on a three-pointer by Gibson, but NAU's offensive rebound -- just its sixth of the game -- was the dagger.
"I thought switching to the zone defense there at the end would bother Northern Arizona and it did," said Earlywine. "Every defensive possession has to conclude with a rebound and we didn't finish the possession."
Northern Arizona entered the game featuring the league's top shooting (.476) team and ranked second in the league in scoring (73.4).