March 4, 2012

Eagles Take On Montana’s 12-Game Winning Streak in Semis

Grizzlies haven’t lost since Jan. 14 to make Eastern a decided underdog, but EWU has a sense of relief after surviving quarterfinal nail-biter

Complete Release in .PDF Format 

Upcoming Games

2012 Big Sky Conference Championship Tournament
(All Times Pacific)

Saturday, March 3 – Quarterfinals
#4 Eastern Washington 81, #5 Idaho State 75
#3 Portland State 75, Montana State 53

Tuesday, March 6 – Semifinals
(at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Montana)
4:35 p.m. - #2 Weber State (23-5) vs. #3 Portland State (17-13)
7 p.m. - #1 Montana (23-6) vs. #4 Eastern Washington (15-16)
televised by Altitude Sports & Entertainment

Wednesday, March 7 – Championship Game
(at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Montana)
televised on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. Pacific

 

Coaches Show

Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for “700 ESPN” and download app). Fans are invited to attend the show live and food service is available. Remaining live shows take place at the Q on 3/5 and 3/12 (5 p.m.).

Coverage

TV: The semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Championship will be televised by Altitude Sports and Entertainment and the championship game will be aired on ESPN2.
Radio: (all EWU games) 700 ESPN "The Ticket" and via the web at http://www.700espn.com
Radio via iPhone App:
Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app
Webcasts:
http://www.bigskytv.org;
Live Stats:
CLICK HERE

 


It’s not always a bad thing to go into a postseason game as the underdog. But considering the roll the University of Montana is on right now with 12-straight victories, Eastern Washington University men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford may beg to differ.

Following an 81-75 quarterfinal victory at home versus Idaho State on March 3,  Eastern Washington University will play the Grizzlies Tuesday (March 6) in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Men’s Basketball Championship in Missoula, Mont.

Big Sky runner-up and No. 2 seed Weber State (23-5) will take on No. 3 seed Portland State (17-13) at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time at Dahlberg Arena. The fourth-seeded Eagles (15-16) will play the top-seeded and host Grizzlies (23-6) at approximately 7 p.m. Pacific time.

Both semifinal games will be televised by Altitude Sports and Entertainment, with the championship game in the tournament taking place Wednesday (March 7) at 6 p.m. Pacific time and will be televised on ESPN2.

The radio broadcast of Tuesday’s game, featuring play-by-play announcer Dennis Patchin, may be heard on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at 700espn.com and via iPhone application (search for “700 ESPN” and download the free app).

Eastern is 0-6 against the three remaining teams in the tournament, but those six games were decided by an average of just 7.5 points per game with one loss in overtime. Eastern lost at Montana 79-71 on Dec. 30, then fell at home by a 74-60 score on Jan. 26.

Montana hasn’t lost to falling at Weber State on Jan. 19 by a 76-58 score.

“Obviously, they beat us twice and are really good,” said Hayford. “We are going to have to play even better than we did against Idaho State. But confidence is a special thing and our team is playing with great confidence.”

The Eagles have won four of their last six games, including a trio of wins over Idaho State (85-78 in Pocatello, 77-64 in Cheney and 81-75 in Cheney). Although the quarterfinal game versus the Bengals wasn’t a blowout like the previous meeting, Hayford admits playing at home and being the favorite added some pressure. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and EWU plays in Missoula where, if not for an 18-1 Grizzly run, the Eagles may have won back on Dec. 30.

“I just have a sense of relief,” said Hayford of advancing to the semifinals. “It is a great foundational year for our program and we are really pleased with it. Our athleticism is a really hard matchup. Unfortunately, there have been times when we’ve guarded our own athleticism with some poor decision-making over the course of the season. And when we are playing smart, when we shoot percentages like we did against Idaho State and play defense like we did, we can be a pretty good team. I’m sure those coaches are looking at us assuming they will see us at our best.”

In the first meeting, the 18-1 Grizzly run turned a 47-38 Eastern lead with 18:11 left in the game into a 56-48 Montana advantage at the 10:49 mark. Eastern, which made 64 percent of its shots in the first half, missed a total of 10-straight shots in the second half before ending a 9:37 stretch without a field goal.

In the rematch in Cheney on Jan. 26, Montana took a 13-point first-half lead before Eastern went on a 10-2 run to start the second half and pulled within one later in the half. But the Eagles couldn’t overcome 34 percent shooting in the game, including just 21 percent in the first half.

In the quarterfinal win over ISU, junior guard Jeffrey Forbes had a season-high 21 points, and had a steal and assist on a key basket with 37 seconds to play as the Eagles advanced. Senior forward Laron Griffin had a career-high 21 points and had 11 rebounds for his sixth career double-double. Colimon, who two days earlier was selected as a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection, finished with 22 points, seven assists, two steals and four rebounds.

The Eagles had their second-best shooting night of the season at 52.8 percent, led by Griffin (8-of-12), Forbes (8-of-12) and Colimon (8-of-13). Eastern is now 9-0 this season when it makes at least 45 percent of its shots from the floor.

“Down six in the second half is nothing for us,” said Hayford, whose team was behind 61-55 with 9:02 left. “Our guys don’t look at the scoreboard until there’s about three minutes to go. They’ve come back from big deficits before, and they knew that whether we were up six or down six we needed to play great defense. And we did that. We were wearing them down and they were in foul trouble, which gave us some pretty high percentage looks down the stretch.”

 

PDF Link to Fact Book

The complete version of the 2011 EWU football fact book may be found at:
http://goeags.com/trads/ewas-factbooks.html

 

More Eagle Football Links and Headlines
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
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

 

GAME NOTES

Ticket Information for Big Sky Semifinals/Championship

Eastern Washington University has a limited number of all-session tickets available in the EWU cheering section for the semifinals and championship game of the Big Sky Conference Championships in Missoula. Those tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and cost $45 each. Orders will be taken Monday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the EWU Ticket Office at Reese Court, or via phone at 509-359-6059. Tickets will also be available through The University of Montana ticket office, however, they will not be in the EWU cheering section and a sell-out is extremely possible.

All-session passes range through UM range in price from $45 for premium reserved to $30 for general admission. Limited amounts of single game tickets will be made available starting at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time on the day of the games.

To order through the University of Montana, call the Adams Center Box Office at 405-243-4051 or 888-MONTANA, or visit www.griztix.com.

Box Office Hours (all times Pacific) -- Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Prices -- Premium Reserved: $45; General Admission: $30.

 

Eastern’s Big Sky Bracketology

The Eagles are making their 12th appearance in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, and second-straight after a string of four-straight misses.

Now 2-4 in six quarterfinal games, Eastern has advanced to the Big Sky semifinals on seven occasions (record of 5-2) and the championship game five times (1-4). Eastern’s only league title came in 2004 when they beat Northern Arizona 71-59, as EWU made its first and only NCAA Tournament appearance. That was the fourth-straight appearance in the title game for the Eagles, who made their first and only NIT appearance in 2003.

Eastern has never played in the semifinals as the No. 4 seed, in fact, has never been fourth-seeded in its previous 11 appearances until this season. The seven appearances for the Eagles in the semis have included one as No. 1, four as No. 2 and one as No. 3.

Eastern is 0-3 in the tournament against Montana, losing to the Grizzlies most recently in 2006 in Flagstaff, Ariz. Eastern lost that game 73-71 in overtime, as Rodney Stuckey missed a potential game-winning shot inside the key in regulation. Montana went on to win the tournament and win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Eastern also lost 58-48 in a 2005 quarterfinal in Missoula in a match-up of the sixth-seeded Eagles and third-seeded Griz. In the 2002 title game in Bozeman, Mont., EWU fell 70-66. In EWU’s only other appearance in the tournament in Missoula, No. 2 Eastern lost 82-65 to No. 3 Northern Arizona in the semifinals.

 

Eastern Making its 12th Appearance in the Big Sky Conference Tournament

Making its 12th postseason appearance in 25 years as a member of the Big Sky Conference, Eastern is now 8-10 in its 18 games played in the league tournament. Last year’s appearance was EWU’s first in five seasons, having qualified for each tournament from 1998-2006. Eastern ended its season with losses to Montana in both 2005 and 2006, but the year before won the title with a 71-59 championship game victory over Northern Arizona to advance to the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament (EWU made its first-ever NIT appearance in 2003).

Although its streak of Big Sky tournament berths came to an end in the 2006-07 season, Eastern was just the fifth school in league history to make nine-straight appearances in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Eastern started the streak back in 1998 after making just one trip to the tourney in their first 10 seasons as a member of the conference.

Weber State had its string of 24-straight appearances stopped in 2005-06, and Montana had a string of 21-straight from 1978-98. The other streaks were 16 by Idaho (1981-96) and 11 by Nevada (1982-92).

Interestingly, Montana’s 77-69 victory over the Lumberjacks on Feb. 28, 2005, extended Eastern’s streak and ended NAU’s eight-season streak. Eastern’s streak started in 1998 with an end-of-year victory at Montana. That “winner advance, loser eliminated” game ended Montana’s 21-year streak.

In 2011, Eastern’s season came to an end with a 79-70 loss at Weber State in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. That came just three days after the Eagles stunned WSU on their home court 75-59 to end the regular season. Because of the upset, the Wildcats lost their chance at a first-round bye and had to face the Eagles again. In the rematch, WSU out-scored EWU 46-25 in the second half as the Wildcats overcame a 12-point EWU halftime lead and a 15-point deficit early in the second half.

Here is a list of Eastern’s appearances in the Big Sky Tournament.
2012 – Semifinal (Missoula, Mont.) #4 seed vs. #1 Montana
2012 – Quarterfinal (Cheney, Wash.) #4 seed vs. #5 Idaho State – W, 81-75
2011 - Quarterfinal (Ogden, Utah) - #6 seed vs. #3 Weber State - L, 70-79
2006 - Semifinal (Flagstaff, Ariz.) - #3 seed vs. #2 Montana - L, 71-73 (ot)
2006 - Quarterfinal (Cheney, Wash.) - #3 seed vs. #6 Portland State - W, 81-75
2005 - Quarterfinal (Missoula, Mont.) - #6 seed vs. #3 Montana - L, 48-58
2004 - Championship (Cheney, Wash.) - #1 seed vs. #2 Northern Ariz. - W, 71-59
2004 - Semifinals (Cheney, Wash.) - #1 seed vs. #5 Weber State - W, 72-53
2003 - Championship (Ogden, Utah) - #2 seed vs. #1 Weber State - L, 57-60
2003 - Semifinals (Ogden, Utah) - #2 seed vs. #4 Idaho State - W, 76-67
2002 - Championship (Bozeman, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #5 Montana - L, 66-70
2002 - Semifinals (Bozeman, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #3 Weber State - W, 62-57
2001 - Championship (Northridge, Calif.) - #2 seed vs. #1 CS Northridge - L, 58-73
2001 - Semifinals (Northridge, Calif.) - #2 seed vs. #5 Northern Arizona - W, 58-53
2000 - Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) - #2 seed vs. #3 Northern Arizona - L, 65-82
1999 - Quarterfinals (Ogden, Utah) - #6 seed vs. #3 Portland State - L, 74-80
1998 - Quarterfinals (Flagstaff, Ariz.) - #3 seed vs. #6 CS Northridge - L, 98-104 (ot)
1990 - Championship (Boise, Idaho) - #2 seed vs. #1 Idaho - L, 62-65
1990 - Semifinals (Boise, Idaho) - #2 seed vs. #5 Weber State - W, 83-67

 

Eagles Win on Senior Night

Four Eastern seniors were honored in pre-game ceremonies on Feb. 28 in EWU’s 77-64 victory over Idaho State. A year after the Eagles were senior-less, this year the Eagles will bid farewell to point guard Cliff Colimon and forwards Laron Griffin, Cliff Ederaine and Tremayne Johnson. Those four players have combined for 177 career starts and 270 total games played heading into Tuesday’s postseason game.

“Through all the highs and lows in this first season, one of the great things about our players has been their resilience. These guys are really easy to love and there is some good brotherhood. I have been on very successful teams that don’t have this kind of chemistry. When they travel together there is a lot of laughter. A lot of times we have players who didn’t have good nights, but who are really the best cheerleaders on the bench.”

Colimon and Griffin combined for 48 points in the Senior Night win, with Colimon establishing a new career high with 28. Griffin had 18 points and 12 rebounds to finish with his fifth career double-double.

 “Those two seniors really stepped up and wouldn’t be denied,” said Hayford. “They both played their best games of the year. The theme was to make Senior Night this Saturday night. And they really bought into that. I know it was really special for the players that all their families came. Many of them are taking time off work, so I have a lot of respect for the families making time for their players and the players working hard for them.”

 

Eagles Have Non-Losing Record in League Play for First Time in Five Seasons

It’s been five years since the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team has had a winning record overall, and remains close thanks to a the school’s first non-losing league campaign since the 2006-07 season.

Now in its 25th season as a member of the Big Sky Conference, only seven of those years has Eastern had a non-losing non-conference record. Eastern was 6-8 in non-conference games, then was 8-8 in the league season. Eastern’s last winning season came in 2006-07 – with sophomore Rodney Stuckey leading the way – when EWU finished 15-14 and 8-8 in league play. One season earlier, the Eagles were 9-5 in the Big Sky in Stuckey’s freshman season – the last time the Eagles have had a winning record in league play.

The 2006-07 season was also the last time Eastern has enjoyed a .500 or better record in the non-conference portion of its schedule. Eastern was 6-5 in the 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1997-98 seasons; 5-5 in 2000-01; 8-6 in 2002-03 when Eastern advanced to the National Invitation Tournament; and 7-6 in 2006-07 when the Eagles tied for fifth in the league but did not advance to the league tournament because of tiebreakers.

 

Eagles 211th in RPI

In the Ratings Percentage Index lists released by the NCAA on Feb. 27, Eastern was ranked 211th out of 344 NCAA Division I schools. The only Big Sky teams ahead of the Eagles were Weber State (75th), Montana (102nd) and Portland State (181st). After Eastern, which was a season-high 129th on Jan. 2, the next league schools were Northern Colorado (258th), Montana State (272nd), Idaho State (278th), Sacramento State (316th) and Northern Arizona (334th).

In the Sagarin Computer Ratings (through games of March 3), the Eagles were fourth in the league and 205th in the nation with the 233rd-highest strength of schedule rating. Montana was 102nd, followed by Weber State (116th), Portland State (195th), Northern Colorado (250th), Montana State (289th), Sacramento State (290th), Idaho State (296th) and Northern Arizona (334th).

 

With Turnover Advantage in All But Four Games Thus Far, Eastern 10th Nationally in Turnover Margin

Eastern has had fewer turnovers than its opponents in 27 of 31 games thus far, with 487 turnovers forced and 364 committed. The result is a Big Sky-leading turnover margin of plus 4.0 per game (EWU’s margin of 4.2 ranked 10th in NCAA Division I through games of March 1). Eastern is leading the league in turnovers forced at 15.7 per game and is also No. 2 in fewest committed with a current mark of 11.7 (the same average ranked 32nd in NCAA Division I through games of March 1). In fact, EWU’s 11.7 average is on pace to shatter the school record from the 1999-2000 season when the Eagles committed only 13.5 per game. Eastern’s turnover margin (+3.97) is just behind the school record held by the 1989-90 Eastern team (+4.14).

In other Big Sky team statistics rankings, Eastern is second in the league in 3-pointers made with a current average of 9.0 per game (its 9.1 average ranked fifth nationally through games of March 1). The Eagles also are first in the Big Sky in offensive rebounds (12.1 per game); second in steals (7.2); and third in scoring offense (72.9), field goal percentage defense (.447), assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.1) and blocked shots (3.5). The Eagles are last rebounds allowed per game (36.6); and are second-to-last in field goal percentage (.410) and rebounding margin (-2.5).

Individually, Cliff Colimon is second in the Big Sky Conference in assists (5.1 per game), third in scoring (16.1), fifth in steals (1.6), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.5), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1), fifth in free throw percentage (.803) and third in minutes played (34.9). Collin Chiverton is second in the league in 3-pointers made per game with an average of 2.8 (his 2.9 average ranked 17th in NCAA Division I through games of March 1), seventh in scoring (14.4), 10th in 3-point percentage (.409) and seventh in free throw percentage (.790). Cliff Ederaine is second in rebounding (7.5), 21st in scoring (10.4), 15th in field goal percentage (.483), third in blocked shots (1.3), ninth in assists (3.0), seventh in steals (1.4) and fourth in offensive rebounds (2.5). Laron Griffin is first in offensive rebounds (3.1), fifth overall in rebounding (6.8) and 10th in blocked shots (0.6). Tremayne Johnson is eighth in blocked shots (0.7).

In Big Sky Conference statistics from league games only, EWU was first in 3-pointers made per game (8.6) and also led in turnover margin (+3.8) and offensive rebounds (12.3); and was last in rebounds allowed (36.8). Griffin led in field goal percentage (.638), is was tied for the lead in offensive rebounds (3.1) and was fifth in rebounding (7.3); Ederaine was second in overall rebounds (8.1) and blocked shots (1.6), and was third in offensive rebounds (2.8) and fourth in steals (1.6); Colimon was third in scoring (17.9), second in assists (4.8), and second in minutes played (36.6).

 

School Records Fall as Eagles Lead Big Sky and are Fifth in NCAA Division I in 3-Point Shooting

En route to setting school records for 3-pointers made and attempted, the Eagles are currently second in the league in 3-pointers made with a current average of 9.0 per game (EWU’s 9.1 average ranked fifth in NCAA Division I through games of March 1). Eastern has made 280-of-778 for 36.0 percent (fourth-best in the league). For Eastern to score the same amount of points from inside the arc with the same amount of shots, the Eagles would have to make 54.0 percent.

Eight different Eagles have made treys, led by the 88 of junior college transfer Collin Chiverton and 64 by point guard Cliff Colimon. Chiverton’s average of 2.8 is second in the league (his 2.9 average ranked 17th nationally through games of March 1). Chiverton already ranks second in school history for treys made in a season, with the record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. His 215 attempts also second in school history, while Colimon ranks seventh in makes (64) and seventh in attempts (176).

The Eagles finished the 2010-11 season with a pair of school records for 3-point shooting, which were both broken in 2011-12. Eastern finished with 242 makes and 656 attempts, breaking the single season makes record of 241 set in 1999, and the record for attempts of 649 set the same season. Kevin Winford made 66 3-pointers in the 2010-11 season to rank fifth (now sixth) in single season school history, and his 187 attempts were fourth (now fifth). Jeffrey Forbes made 55 treys to rank 11th (now 13th).

“We’re confident with our system that we are going to get the 3-point shot no matter who we play,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after Eastern made 13 treys in a 73-66 win over Idaho on Nov. 30. “We are not always going to shoot the percentage we like, but we got 28 looks from three against Idaho and that’s right around where we’ve been. There are times where we might have five 3-point shooters or four on the floor at the same time, and we start the game with only three. (Idaho’s Memorial Gym) was an easy gym to shoot in because it’s small, and I think our players bought into it. So we shot the ball well. And hitting 13 threes – eight in the first half – kind of takes them out of the defense they want to play.”

 

A First Team All-Big Sky Selection, Colimon Impressive in Eastern Victories

Senior point guard Cliff Colimon has been impressive in Eastern victories, including EWU’s last two victories – both against Idaho State. A first team All-Big Sky Conference selection as chosen by the league’s head coaches, Colimon has scored at least 20 points on 12 occasions this season, including six of his last eight outings with a 21.3 average in those eight games (four victories).

He scored 22 points to go along with seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in EWU’s 81-76 victory versus ISU in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Championship on March 3. One game earlier on Senior Night on Feb. 28 in a 77-64 win over Idaho State, he had a career-high 28 points to eclipse his previous high by one. He also added four assists versus the Bengals – all in the second half when he scored 20 of his points. Colimon had a four-point play with 53 seconds left in the first half to give EWU a five-point lead, then EWU out-scored ISU 44-35 after intermission, including a 30-15 run in the first 10:38 of the second half. Colimon earned his first-ever Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honor after the Senior Night victory.

“What you want on a senior night is for your seniors to step up,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “Cliff led us offensively and had a great combination of beating people off the pass, the dribble and the shot. It was a complete game by our team and a complete game by these seniors. Generally, in basketball the team that is more aggressive is the team that wins, and I like that we were the more aggressive team.”

He is coming on strong at the end of the season much like he did last year when he had his previous career high with 27 points in last year’s Big Sky Conference Tournament against Weber State. In his final three games of his junior season, Colimon led EWU to a pair of victories and averaged 19.0 points per game.

In Eastern’s victories this season, Colimon is averaging 18.1 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting from the field (34-of-87 from the 3-point arc for 39.1 percent). In EWU’s losses, he is averaging 14.3 points on 34.7 percent shooting from the field (30-of-89 3-point shooting for 33.7 percent).

For the season, Colimon is second in the Big Sky Conference in assists (5.1 per game), third in scoring (16.1), fifth in steals (1.6), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.5), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1), fifth in free throw percentage (.803) and third in minutes played (34.9).. In statistics from league games only, he ranked third in scoring (17.9), second in assists (4.8), and second in minutes played (36.6).

His 64 3-pointers made this season rank seventh in school history and his 176 attempts are seventh. Despite playing just two seasons for EWU, he ranks sixth in school history for career 3-pointers with 112, and is ninth in attempts with 304.

Colimon also had a near triple-double versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 15 when he had 22 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in EWU’s come-from-behind 79-76 win. One league game later, he scored 21 points with six rebounds and three assists in EWU’s 85-78 win at Idaho State on Feb. 23. He also had a 22-point effort on 8-of-16 shooting from the field in EWU’s Big Sky Conference-opening 82-66 victory over Montana State on Dec. 28.

Colimon struggled with his shot in Eastern losses to Saint Mary’s (77-61 on Dec. 20), UCLA (60-47 on Dec. 14) and Washington State (75-49 on Dec. 3). He was just 4-of-33 (12.1 percent) from the field in those three games, including only 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) of his 3-point attempts.

But it’s hard to put up better numbers than what Colimon compiled in a victory over Linfield (104-54 on Dec. 8) and a loss to Cal State Fullerton (91-76 on Dec. 11). In 72 minutes of action, Colimon had 46 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, six steals and just one turnover. He combined to make 18-of-34 shots from the field and 7-of-16 from 3-point range en route to scoring 23 points in each outing.

Colimon followed that with five assists, two steals and two turnovers in 40 minutes versus UCLA, but scored just five points on 1-of-12 shooting. Two nights later versus PLU, he made 8-of-12 shots from the field, 4-of-6 3-pointers and 6-of-9 free throws to finish with a season-high 26 points – one from his career high. He also added seven assists and three steals, but also had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers.

In Eastern’s 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8, Colimon scored 23 points and had three steals and a career-high 11 assists to equal the seventh-most in school history. It was Eastern’s top assist performance in more than 10 years since Jason Lewis had 12 versus Cal State Northridge on Jan. 20, 2001. Colimon also had no turnovers in 32 minutes of action.

Head coach Jim Hayford said it best after the Linfield game: “I loved Colimon’s line – 11 assists, 23 points and no turnovers.”

“We stopped calling him Little Cliff – his name is ‘Tough Cliff’ now,” Hayford said in reference to the nickname given to Colimon and the “Big Cliff” moniker given to forward Cliff Ederaine. “Colimon was hurt more than anybody by his performance at Washington State – he had a tough night down there. Hopefully the confidence he gained against Linfield will be fuel in his tank.”

He scored 17 points and had eight assists in his season-opener against Gonzaga on Nov. 11. The eight assists versus the Bulldogs was his career high until the output of 11 versus Linfield. His assists total against Gonzaga doubled his previous career high of four set last season against Idaho State (1/29/11) and Sacramento State (12/29/10).

Colimon’s previous career high of 27 points came in the final game of the 2010-11 season against Weber State (3/5/11) in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. In fact, in his last three games last season and first game this year, Colimon averaged 18.5 points per game, including victories over Montana (59-55) and Weber State (75-59), and near-misses versus Weber State (79-70) and Gonzaga (77-69).

 

Chiverton Wins Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Accolades

Junior college transfer Collin Chiverton was selected as the Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year by the league’s head coaches, as he has had 12 20-point performances as an Eagle – including five-straight games from Jan. 12-26. He also earned honorable mention All-Big Sky accolades.

Chiverton is second in the league in 3-pointers made per game with an average of 2.8 (his 2.9 average ranked 17th in NCAA Division I through games of March 1), seventh in scoring (14.4), 10th in 3-point percentage (.409) and seventh in free throw percentage (.790). For the season, Chiverton is 88-of-215 from the 3-point stripe for 40.9 percent and 59-of-181 inside the arc for 32.6 percent. His 88 3-pointers are second in school history and his 215 attempts are also second.

However, injuries have plagued him during the league season. Most recently, a back injury suffered early in the game against Idaho State on Feb. 23 held him to three minutes of playing time in that game and nine versus Portland State two nights later. He played in only 11 minutes in EWU’s on Feb. 28 versus Idaho State, and 16 versus ISU on March 3.

An off-season stress fracture in his foot was reinjured over the Christmas break, and the 6-foot-6 Chiverton has been hampered ever since. In fact, it was painful enough to limit him to 10 minutes, six shots and four points in the first half against Northern Colorado on Feb. 15. Eastern trailed 43-29 at halftime, but rallied for a 79-76 win, as Chiverton made 4-of-6 shots and scored 14 points after intermission to finish with 19 points in 21 minutes. He followed that with 20 points in 26 minutes at UC Irvine on Feb. 18.

He didn’t play in the first half against NAU on Jan. 7, but scored 12 points in the second half – including EWU’s first 10 of the half to give the Eagles the lead for good in the 76-59 win. He followed that with 21 points in just 25 minutes of action versus Sacramento State on Jan. 12, 21 in 18 minutes versus Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 and 26 in 26 minutes at Seattle on Jan. 16. Thus, in those four games, he scored nearly a point a minute – 80 in 83 minutes – while making 19-of-34 (56 percent) from the 3-point arc.

He followed that by playing 37 minutes against Portland State on Jan. 21, and scored 22 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the 3-point stripe and 7-of-21 overall. His fifth-straight 20-point performance came versus Montana on Jan. 26 when he made 5-of-10 shots overall and 4-of-6 from the 3-point stripe, as well as 8-of-12 free throws.

“It’s an injury that the doctor says he can play through, but with a tremendous amount of pain,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford explained after the NAU win. “So you have to respect him as a teammate in that he’ll do whatever he can to play. We’re trying to get him as much rest as we can. He had 10 points in his first four minutes, but he also did a great job guarding (NAU guard Stallon) Saldivar.”

He made 6-of-8 treys and 1-of-2 2-point attempts en route to scoring 21 points versus Sac State on Jan. 12, and versus Pacific Lutheran on Dec. 16 he made 6-of-9 2-point attempts and 4-of-10 treys en route to scoring 26 points.

Chiverton opened his Eastern career in a big way, scoring 25 points in Eastern’s 77-69 loss at Gonzaga on Nov. 11. A former redshirt at GU rival Saint Mary’s in California, Chiverton made 6-of-12 shots from the 3-point arc and 8-of-24 shots from the field against Gonzaga. He scored 25 again in EWU’s 70-61 win over South Dakota, making 9-of-21 shots overall and 6-of-13 from the 3-point arc. He added a third 20-point performance with 20 points in EWU’s 89-72 upset of Hawai’i on Nov. 19.

Chiverton’s debut versus GU was the best for an Eagle since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The previous best came a year ago when Chiverton’s Eastern teammate Tremayne Johnson scored 21 in a 67-60 loss at San Jose State. Interestingly, current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored only 14 points in his debut against Pacific Lutheran in the 2005-06 season. Chiverton’s scoring output was also the second-best season-opening performance by an Eagle since David Peed scored 29 points on Nov. 25, 1989, in EWU’s 96-84 loss to BYU.

After leaving Saint Mary’s – a team he scored 18 against on Dec. 20 -- Chiverton played one season at Salt Lake Community College before leading City College of San Francisco to the 2010-11 California Community Colleges Athletic Association title. He averaged 19 points per game as a sophomore, including an average of 30 per game in the tournament, as San Francisco finished the season 32-1 with a 27-game winning streak.

 

Forbes Has Biggest Game of Season When it Matters Most

For the second-straight year, junior guard Jeffrey Forbes has scored in a big way when it matters the most.

Forbes had a season-high 21 points, and had a steal and assist on a key basket with 37 seconds to play, in EWU’s 81-75 Big Sky Conference Championship quarterfinal win over Idaho State. He made 8-of-12 shots from the field, including 5-of-6 3-point attempts. It was only his second double figure scoring performance in his last 15 games as he entered the game averaging 6.5 points per game overall and 5.6 in league play.

“Jeff had a huge night -- he received the game ball for really stepping up,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “He is a winning player -- he had a great high school career and was part of a great high school program. He is our most steady player and he knows how to play winning basketball. I’m extremely proud of him.”

A year ago, he entered EWU’s March 2 game at Weber State averaging only 6.6 points per game on the road. But he responded in a huge way, making 7-of-9 shots overall and 3-of-5 attempts from the arc in EWU’s 75-59 win. He finished with 17 points and also had a pair of steals as EWU forced a season-high 23 turnovers leading to a season-high 29 points off turnovers. His scoring performance was his best in 16 games since his back-to-back 21-point efforts to open the league season against Sacramento State and Northern Colorado in late December.

He had late-season heroics in high school too, helping Federal Way (Wash.) win the 2009 State 4A title. The Eagles finished the 2008-09 season 27-2 and 14-2 in the South Puget Sound League North Division, and won their final 16 games of the year. Forbes averaged 11.2 points per game en route to second-team All-SPSL honors. He had a season-high 24 late in the season against Central Kitsap, and scored 38 points in four State 4A Tournament games, including 16 in a semifinal win over Kentridge.

 

Eagles Flexing Their Muscles Inside

With Eastern’s shooting percentage from the perimeter suffering at various times in the league season, Eastern has re-established an inside presence. In a 69-52 win over Montana State on Jan. 28, Eastern had a season-high 40 points inside the paint, second only overall to the 44 the Eagles had versus Linfield on Dec. 8. The previous most versus a NCAA foe was on Dec. 28 when the Eagles had 26 against MSU in an 82-66 victory in Bozeman. The Eagles also had 32 inside the paint versus Sacramento State on Feb. 4 and 32 against Idaho State on both Feb. 28 and March 3.

A trio of seniors 6-foot-7 or taller have paved the way. Laron Griffin (6-8) has had double-doubles in his last two games -- 18 points and 12 rebounds against ISU on Feb. 28 on Senior Night and 21 points and 11 boards in Big Sky Conference Championship quarterfinals on March 3.

Best of all, Griffin had only three fouls and played 32 minutes versus the Bengals on Feb. 28 after fouling out 13 times in EWU’s first 29 games (his 13 disqualifications leads NCAA Division I). He then played 38 minutes and had only one foul on March 3. He has a school-record 126 fouls this season, breaking the previous record of 114 he set last season.

“Laron is solid,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “He is an extremely coachable player and he is definitely our most improved player. He’s improved his field goal percentage by at least 25 percent over last season (.627 this season, .436 his junior season and .44 as a sophomore). He is a great teammate and it is a real joy to be Laron’s coach.”

Cliff Ederaine (6-7) and Tremayne Johnson (6-7) have also contributed greatly inside for the Eagles this season.

Ederaine has had six double-doubles this season – three in his last 10 games – and has had seven in his career. He had 15 points and 18 rebounds (fourth-most in school history) against Sacramento State on Feb. 4, and had 11 points and 13 boards one game earlier versus Northern Arizona on Feb. 2. He also had six assists in each game. His other double-doubles this season included 10 points and 13 boards against Montana on Jan. 26, 12 points and 12 rebounds versus Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 and 11 points and 11 rebounds against Linfield on Dec. 8.

Griffin has had double-doubles this season against ISU (twice) and MSU, and now has six in his career. Griffin has had six performances with at least 10 rebounds this year and 12 in his career. Johnson has had four double-doubles in his career, including two this year versus Portland State (20 points, 10 rebounds on Jan. 21) and Montana (14 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 30).

In Big Sky Conference statistics, Ederaine is second in rebounding (7.5), 21st in scoring (10.4), 15th in field goal percentage (.483), third in blocked shots (1.3), ninth in assists (3.0), seventh in steals (1.4) and fourth in offensive rebounds (2.5). Griffin is first in offensive rebounds (3.1), fifth overall in rebounding (6.8) and 10th in blocked shots (0.6). Johnson is eighth in blocked shots (0.7).

In Big Sky Conference statistics from league games only, Griffin led in field goal percentage (.638), is was tied for the lead in offensive rebounds (3.1) and was fifth in rebounding (7.3); and Ederaine was second in overall rebounds (8.1) and blocked shots (1.6), and was third in offensive rebounds (2.8) and fourth in steals (1.6).

In the Jan. 28 win over MSU, that trio combined for 40 points and 30 rebounds. Griffin had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds; Ederaine had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists; and Johnson came off the bench to score 11 points and grab eight boards.

In the next game, a 74-68 road win at Northern Arizona, Ederaine had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds; Griffin had seven rebounds and five points; and Johnson had six points and three boards. Collectively, they made 12-of-18 free throws versus the Lumberjacks.

“One of the things that we were really working on is that if we want to get the ball inside we need to get higher percentage shots and we need to shoot more free throws,” said Hayford after the MSU rematch. “We knew our team was progressing and we needed to develop some sort of low post presence in order to get better as a team.

“It doesn’t feel like there are that many nights where the other team’s big guys are the same size as ours,” Hayford said of his big men. “So it was neat for us to flex our muscles down low.”

After leading Eastern to a pair of late November victories, Ederaine was selected as Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, the league announced Nov. 29. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior forward from Moreno Valley, Calif., averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and two blocks per game as the Eagles notched a road win over Hawai’i (89-72) on Nov. 22, and topped UC Davis (79-59) on Nov. 27 in Cheney.

He had a splendid outing in a 76-69 loss to Weber State on Jan. 5, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists, a career-high five steals and a pair of blocked shots. He had no turnovers in 34 minutes after having five in 23 minutes in EWU’s previous game, a 79-71 loss at Montana.

“Big Cliff played a great game -- he was the best big man on the court,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after the Weber State game. “We were able to run the offense through him. He felt bad about the turnovers in Missoula so I asked him what he was going to do about that the next game. He really worked hard tonight.”

En route to a career-high 23 points versus UC Davis, Ederaine made 8-of-9 shots from the field, including his first trey of the season and only the second of his career. A 45.6 percent free throw shooter a year ago, he made 6-of-9 for the line against the Aggies to improve to 20-of-26 – 76.9 percent (currently he is at 61.4 percent, 89-of-145).

To add to his night, Ederaine also had eight rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal. Ederaine scored 11 points in the first 6:24 of the game as Eastern held early leads of 13-4 and 17-9. He had 11 points, five boards and five assists in the second half alone. “We were running our offense through the high post and Big Cliff put the team on his shoulders,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford.

In another home game this season – a 70-61 win over South Dakota on Nov. 15 -- Ederaine had 15 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals. In the team’s third home game on Dec. 8 versus Linfield, he had his third career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and also had six assists.

His performance against South Dakota was his second career double-double, with his first coming against New Hope last year when he had 12 points and 17 rebounds, as well as his previous career high for assists with four. He had 10 double figure scoring performance and seven with at least 10 rebounds in the 2010-11 season.

 

Eagles Continue to Climb Three-Point Career and Single Season Lists

A pair of Eagles already rank in the top 10 on several Eastern season and career lists. Junior Jeffrey Forbes has 143 3-pointers made in his career to rank fourth and his 375 attempts are fourth. Fellow junior Kevin Winford has 110 makes to rank seventh and his 326 attempts are fifth, and Cliff Colimon has 112 makes to rank sixth and 304 attempts to rank ninth.

Those players have also been impressive from the free throw line in their careers. Forbes, in fact, set a single season school record for free throw percentage (.900, 54-of-60) in the 2010-11 season, just ahead of the previous record of .899 set by Darren Cooper in 2001-02). In his career, Forbes has made what would be a school record at 87.8 percent (137-of-156), but he is 26 attempts shy to meet the minimum of two free throw attempts per game. Winford’s 83.8 percent (62-of-74) is also just behind the school record, but he also does not meet the minimums (he has 74 and would need 174). Currently with the school record is the 84.9 percent performance of Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame member Dick Edwards (1953-55). Colimon has made 78.3 percent in his career (144-of-184) and is inching toward the No. 10 position (79.0 percent).

 

Blocked Shots Totals High Too

With 120 blocked shots for the 2010-11 season, Eastern finished only 10 blocked shots away from the school record of 130 set in 2006. Currently, the Eagles have 109.

A trio of current Eastern players have recorded four of the top 12 single season performances in school history including Cliff Ederaine, with 39 this season to rank second behind the school record of 51 set by Paul Butorac in 2006. Last year’s performers on the list included Tremayne Johnson (35, now fourth), Ederaine (34, now tied for fifth) and Laron Griffin (28, now tied for 12th).

In their careers thus far, Ederaine ranks fourth in school history with 73, Griffin is fifth with 67 and Johnson is seventh with 57.

 

True Freshman Walk-On Parker Kelly Has Career-High 17 Twice, Plus Game-Winner Versus UNC

Walk-on guard Parker Kelly, a true freshman out of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash., is getting significant minutes as he continues to adjust to the college game. Kelly is averaging 9.6 points per game in EWU’s last seven games, including two with 17 and one in which he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 14 seconds to play.

His averaged 19.5 minutes in conference play and 15.8 minutes per game overall. He is averaged 6.5 points in the league on 27-of-56 shooting from the 3-point arc (48 percent), and made 15-of-17 free throws (88 percent). Overall, he is averaging 4.8 points and has made 44 percent of his 3-point attempts (34-of-77) and 91 percent of his free throws (21-of-23).

In an 85-78 win at Idaho State on Feb. 23, Kelly made the first start of his career and helped replace some of the scoring lost with the absence of injured leading scorer Collin Chiverton. He responded by equaling his career-high with 17 points, making 5-of-7 3-pointers as EWU finished with 10 as a team. “Parker made some big, big threes during the course of the game,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford of the 2011 graduate of Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane, Wash. “He played very well.”

He scored 11 points in a 78-73 loss at UC Irvine in the ESPN BracketBusters on Feb. 18. One game earlier versus Northern Colorado, he scored nine second-half points on a trio of 3-pointers, including a game-winning trey with 14 seconds left in the come-from-behind 79-76 victory.

In the game before that, Kelly scored a career-high 17 points in EWU’s 84-75 loss at Weber State on Feb. 11. Kelly, whose previous high was 12 on two occasions, made 6-of-10 shots from the field, including 5-of-8 from the 3-point arc versus the Wildcats. “Parker Kelly played a heckuva basketball game -- I’m so proud of him,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said.

Earlier in the league season, Kelly equaled his season high with 12 points against Northern Colorado on Jan. 14, and had eight points in 21 minutes in EWU’s 69-52 victory over Montana State on Jan. 28. He followed that with 11 second-half points against Northern Arizona on Feb. 2, as the Eagles rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit to win 74-68. Down the stretch, Kelly made a basket with 4:06 remaining to put the Eagles up by seven, then made a trey with 1:18 to play to enable EWU to maintain a six-point advantage. He then knocked down 4-of-4 free throws in the final 51 seconds to ice the win for the Eagles.

“I was pleased with the job that Parker was doing,” Hayford said after the MSU rematch. “Parker has great character, he’s a solid person and that’s what he keeps showing over time. I’m really proud of how he is playing. We don’t have a lot of depth so there is a walk-on freshman playing 21 minutes in a big game -- so great job Parker.

“The player that came up with the most clutch plays was our only true freshman on the team,” praised Hayford after the NAU game. “Parker hit a big clutch shot with the shot clock going down and then made those big free throws. He had a lot of courage tonight.”

Kelly helped Gonzaga Prep accumulate a 73-11 overall record and 45-5 league mark in three seasons. He helped lead the Bullpups to the 2011 State 4A Championship, as they were 23-3 after finishing the Greater Spokane League season with a 14-2 record. Kelly scored 24 points in the State title game and earned second-team All-State Tournament honors. Also selected to play in the All-State Game, Kelly averaged more than 18 points per game as a senior en route to earning first team All-Greater Spokane League honors.

His father, Terry, had his No. 44 basketball jersey retired by Gonzaga Prep, as he averaged 26.2 points per game his senior year in 1976 to lead the Spokane City League in scoring. He was the league’s player of the year after leading the Bullpups to a third-place finish at the State AAA Tournament. He went on to Washington State University where he started 80 straight games at one stretch and led the Cougars to the 1980 NCAA tournament.

 

Tongue-Lashing Keeps Winford Out of UCLA and PLU Games

In a tongue-lashing of a rare kind, junior guard Kevin Winford had to sit out the UCLA game on Dec. 14 and the Pacific Lutheran game two days later because of a swollen tongue. Winford bit his tongue in EWU’s game at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 11, then spent two days in a California hospital – some of it in intensive care -- because of an inordinate degree of swelling. He returning to play sparingly – just one minute -- against Saint Mary’s on Dec. 20.

Because he is Eastern’s backup point guard, starter Cliff Colimon was forced to play all 40 minutes against UCLA because of the absence of Winford. A 2008 graduate of Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska, Winford is only averaging 11.2 minutes per game this season, and is averaging 2.0 points per game on 10-of-35 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. But the 5-foot-11 academic All-America nominee provided the play of the game in Eastern’s 104-54 victory over Linfield on Dec. 8.

 “The best play of the night was Kevin’s drive and dunk down the lane – that was pretty emphatic,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said. “He’s a very athletic player and we want him to show it. That was an example of it. He’s just a great young man – a tremendous student and a great leader. He’s a business major, and some business will be really glad to hire him some day. I just think the world of him. I promise you he’ll be showing his grandkids that dunk someday.”

Winford poured in 39 points -- including a school-record 10 3-pointers -- in Eastern’s overwhelming 112-41 non-conference victory over New Hope Christian College on Dec. 4. En route to the fifth-best scoring night in school history against New Hope, Winford broke the school record of nine treys he set just a week earlier against Idaho on Nov. 27. As a team, the Eagles broke the school record for made 3-pointers (18) and three pointers attempted (43), and tied the mark for field goals made in a game with 45. Previous records were 16 3-pointers versus Cascade on Dec. 14, 2007; 38 attempts versus Nevada on Feb. 14, 1991; and 45 field goals made against U.S. International on Feb. 2, 1991.

Winford’s 23 three-point attempts were also a Big Sky Conference record, breaking the previous mark of 17 set by Nevada’s Kevin Franklin against Oregon on Dec. 16, 1989. His makes were third-most, with Portland State’s Brian Towne owning the record with 12 in a 1998 game against Idaho State. As a team, Eastern was two made 3-pointers from the Big Sky record of 20, but its 43 attempts were a record.

 

Hayford’s First Eastern Win Has South Dakota Connections

Coming full circle, Jim Hayford’s first win as Eastern Washington’s head coach came in a 70-61 win on Nov. 15 over South Dakota. South Dakota was directed by veteran head coach Dave Boots, who has won nearly 500 games in 23-plus seasons at the helm of the Coyotes. In fact, in the 1999-2000 season, Boots’ South Dakota squad knocked off Hayford’s University of Sioux Falls team 95-73. Hayford went on to finish 15-15 in his first season as a collegiate head coach, while the Coyotes finished 22-6.

“I’ll always remember my first win at Eastern was against South Dakota,” said Hayford. “It’s kind of poetic because my first head coaching job was in South Dakota.”

 
 

SERIES HISTORY

EWU-UM Series History (Since 1983-84): Eastern has lost nine of the last 11 meetings and 15 of the last 18. The lone victories in that stretch came on Dec. 30, 2006, in Cheney when the Eagles beat the Grizzlies 74-71, on Feb. 14, 2010, when the Eagles prevailed 69-68 at Reese Court and on Feb. 26, 2011, when EWU upset the Grizzlies 59-55 in overtime in Cheney. Last year’s win over Montana helped clinch a postseason berth for the Eagles and, in the process, kept the Grizzlies from clinching at least a share of the league title.

Eastern is 17-43 against the Grizzlies since 1983-84, including a 7-23 record in Missoula, 10-18 in Cheney and 0-2 on neutral courts versus the Grizzlies. Montana leads the series overall 60-38.

In the 2005-06 season, Montana swept the Eagles in three games -- 78-72 in Missoula, 68-46 in Cheney and 73-71 in overtime in the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Flagstaff, Ariz. In both regular season meetings that season, Eastern had leads before succumbing to Montana second-half comebacks. In the overtime loss, Eastern trailed by 14 before a late 10-0 run put Eastern back into the game. But Eagle freshman Rodney Stuckey missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer to end regulation. Montana then went on a 6-0 run in overtime to end Eastern’s season.

Prior the six-game losing streak that Eastern ended on Dec. 30, 2006, Eastern had won 10 of the previous 14 meetings including regular season sweeps three-straight conference seasons from 2001-03. However, the Grizzlies snapped a four-game losing streak to the Eagles when the fifth-seeded Grizzlies upset second-seeded EWU 70-66 in the 2002 Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game in Bozeman, Mont.

Included in the series history was an 81-75 victory in Missoula to end the 1998-99 season that clinched the sixth and final berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the Eagles. That victory snapped Eastern's eight-game losing streak in Missoula, and a home win in 1998 snapped a 10-game losing streak overall in the series.

A 77-75 Eagle home loss at the end of the 2000-2001 regular season gave Montana a share of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball title in front of 5,426 fans at Reese Court in Cheney. The Eagles had taken a 12-point lead with 8:06 to play in the second half, but went the next 6:21 without scoring. During Montana's 17-0 run, the Eagles missed 10-straight field goal attempts while the Grizzlies made 6-of-7 shots. The loss was Eastern's first in eight conference home games. Montana made 4-of-6 free throws in the last 23 seconds to clinch the win and hold off Eastern's comeback attempt that included a trio of three-pointers in the last 1:45.

 

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