GAME NOTES: In need of a win to guarantee entry into the conference tournament, the Eastern Washington Eagles host the Weber State Wildcats in a Big Sky bout at Reese Court on Saturday evening.
Weber State lost to Portland State on Thursday, 66-59. It was the second straight setback for the Wildcats, who have clinched at least a share of the Big Sky regular-season title, and will host the Big Sky Tournament next weekend in Ogden. With a win or a Montana loss at Northern Arizona, the Wildcats will clinch the outright conference crown.
EWU beat Idaho State on Thursday, 77-69, marking the team's sixth victory in its last eight games. The Eagles are now in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Big Sky, and can finish anywhere from fifth to eighth. A win gets them into the conference tourney, but a loss will require a lot of help stemming from the other games going around the league on Saturday.
The Wildcats have dominated the all-time series with the Eagles, holding a 42-20 advantage, with wins in the last four meetings, including a 74-67 decision in Ogden on Jan. 2. EWU has made this a much more interesting matchup in Cheney, where the teams have split 28 meetings.
In the recent loss to Portland State, Davion Berry poured in 17 points for the Wildcats, while Kyle Tresnak had 11 and Joel Bolomboy collected 10 rebounds. Weber State shot a meager 22.7 percent from the field and trailed 29-17 at intermission. The Wildcats managed to improve its field goal shooting to 52 percent in the second stanza and pulled even on several occasions, but with the score knotted at 43-43 with under six minutes remaining, the Vikings pulled away thanks to a 12-1 surge.
Berry is one of the top performers in the conference this season, pouring in 19.0 ppg, not to mention clearing 4.4 rpg and handing out a team-best 104 assists. Jeremy Senglin steps up with another 11.3 ppg, thanks in large part to his 40.3 percent shooting behind the 3-point line where he has combined with Berry to knock down 101 triples. Kyle Tresnak rounds out the scoring leaders with 11.2 ppg. Bolomboy adds 8.6 ppg, but is pulling down an impressive 10.9 rpg, tops in the conference. Defensively, the Wildcats have limited their opponents to a league-best 42.3 percent shooting from the field, which certainly contributes to the them topping the Big Sky in both scoring defense (66.1 ppg) and scoring margin (+6.4).
Tyler Harvey registered a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds to go with eight assists, as the Eagles rolled over the Idaho State Bengals. Parker Kelly scored 16 points and Martin Seiferth logged a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards for the Eagles. Venky Jois added 12 points and six blocks, while Felix Von Hofe chipped in 11 points. EWU shot 48.3 percent from the field in the first period, as it led 37-23 at the break. The Eagles saw their lead trimmed to five early in the second, but responded with a 13-4 run to get the lead up to 14 as they pulled away for the win.
Harvey has been an offensive beast this season, leading the Big Sky with 21.8 ppg, while shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point distance. Harvey adds 4.2 rpg and 2.8 apg to his stat line. Jois checks in with 13.6 ppg on 53.1 percent shooting from the floor, and tops the Eagles in rebounding with 8.0 rpg. Drew Brandon is the third and final double-digit scorer for EWU at 10.6 ppg. The Eagles are the top scoring club in the Big Sky, netting 76.1 ppg but unfortunately they are giving most of that right back, allowing opponents to score a league-worst 74.9 ppg. They are also the top rebounding team in the conference, pulling down 36.8 rpg.
This matchup pairs the Big Sky's top offense against its top defense, with playoff seeding on the line. The Wildcats have been struggling of late and the Eagles have been streaking, so expect that trend to continue as the home team earns a narrow victory.
Game Date and Time