February 5, 2013

Chase to Earn a Postseason Berth Continues in Sacramento

Currently tied for eighth in the league standings, Eagles also play at Northern Arizona this week

Complete Release in .PDF Format

Upcoming Games

Thursday, Feb. 7 - Hornets Nest (1,200) - Sacramento, Calif.
7:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (4-8/6-16) at Sacramento State (5-7/10-10)

Saturday, Feb. 9 - Walkup Skydome (7,000) - Flagstaff, Ariz.
12:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington at Northern Arizona

Coaches Show

Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at The Swinging Doors in North Spokane . . . 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app). Shows are each Tuesday from Jan. 8 to March 12 and feature head coach Jim Hayford and host Larry Weir. The Swinging Doors is located at W. 1018 Francis in Spokane.

Coverage

TV: The Northern Arizona game is televised live on FOX Sports Arizona Plus (DISH: 448 SD, 9518 HD; DirecTV: 695 SD, 695-1 HD), as well as on Fox College Sports Pacific (1 a.m. Pacific time on Feb. 10). Webcast: http://www.bigskytv.org
Radio:
All Eastern games are on 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 20th 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/EWU Home Games) or ewustats.com (mobile phones/EWU Home Games) . . . SAC STATE GAME . . . NAU GAME


The chase is on. And the Eagles hope to be at full strength in their sprint to the finish.

This week, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team plays two teams just ahead of the Eagles in the Big Sky Conference standings as they begin their final push toward a postseason playoff berth.

The Eagles play at Sacramento State on Thursday (Feb. 7) in a game that begins at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time. The following Saturday (Feb. 9), the Eagles will be in Flagstaff, Ariz., to face Northern Arizona at 12:05 p.m. Pacific time. The game versus the Lumberjacks will be televised live on FOX Sports Arizona Plus (DISH: 448 SD, 9518 HD; DirecTV: 695 SD, 695-1 HD), as well as on Fox College Sports Pacific (1 a.m. Pacific time on Feb. 10).

The radio broadcast of all Eastern games is on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at www.700espn.com and via iPhone application (search for “700 ESPN” and download the free app). The broadcast is also available via www.tunein.com and tunein’s mobile phone app. Larry Weir returns for his 20th year as the play-by-play voice of the Eagles.

After beating Portland State (76-65), downing Montana State (72-68) and falling to Montana (65-46) in a span of six days, Eastern is now 6-16 overall and 4-8 in the league. The Eagles and Northern Colorado are tied eighth in the conference standings, with NAU and Sacramento State one game ahead of them in sixth at 5-7. North Dakota is two games ahead of EWU in fifth at 6-6. Only the top seven teams advance to the league tournament March 14-16.

“It’s fun that our team is fighting for our goal and we are in the mix,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “If we hadn’t had success last week, it would be a lot harder. But we fought our way into that position and now we’ll keep fighting for more wins.

“Our goal is to reach the postseason, and we knew that was going to be challenging goal for with our young team this year,” Hayford explained. “Now we have to go find it – it’s in our hands and we control our own destiny. Our next six games are all against teams in that mix, and are fighting for that same goal as we are. Three of them are at home and three of them are away, and we’re trying to find some success on the road.”

Sacramento State is now 10-10 overall after a 62-61 home loss against NAU on Monday (Feb. 4). The Lumberjacks enter Thursday’s game at Portland State with an 8-14 overall record. Earlier this season, Eastern defeated NAU 82-59, then two nights later led Sacramento State at halftime 33-23. But EWU was outscored 37-20 in the second half by the Hornets and lost 60-53.

“We felt like the Sacramento State game got away from us – we should have won that game,” Hayford said. “We had a poor second half at home. As we keep improving, Sacramento State is the type of team we need to show that we’ve gained on over the course of the season.

Eastern is hoping to be back to full strength this week – or at least close – after playing without two injured starters in last Saturday’s (Feb. 2) setback to the Grizzlies. True freshman forward Venky Jois sprained his ankle with 3:15 left in the victory over MSU, and senior guard Jeffrey Forbes has essentially not played in the last four games because of an injury on his shooting hand that required stitches. 

Jois has established himself as a bonafide contender for All-Big Sky Conference honors, as well as the league’s Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year accolades. Jois has had nine double-doubles this season, and is averaging 13.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game.

Outside of a few seconds played in three of EWU’s last four games, Forbes has appeared only to help him toward his pursuit of the school record for career games played. The senior has started 98 career games, and with 112 games played, is nearing the EWU career record of 119.

“The big question for us is whether or not we are going to play this week healthy or not,” said Hayford. “If we had all of our bodies, it would be a little easier to compete with them. We probably won’t know until Thursday if we’ll be at full strength or not.”

The Eagles are 5-5 at home this season, but are still winless at 0-10 on opponent home courts (1-1 at neutral sites).

“It’s not something we’ve talked about, but I know it’s something everybody thinks about,” added Hayford. “We keep putting the emphasis on improvement, and if you keep improving, you are going to get those road wins. They are really hard to get, but once you get one, I think the second win is easier to get. I want to see our players enjoy the fruits of their labors and get a road win.”

 
 

PDF Link to Fact Book

The complete version of the 2012 EWU men’s basketball fact book may be found at:
http://goeags.com/trads/ewas-factbooks.html

 

More Eagle Basketball Links

Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Link to Ticket Information: http://goeags.com/newtickets/tickets.html
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

 

Quick Shots

* Eastern knows a lot about the Bearkats from the football field, just not much yet about their men’s basketball team. The Eagles will host Sam Houston State on Saturday, Feb. 23 as pairings were announced Monday (Jan. 4) for the ESPN Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters series of college basketball games. The game has been tentatively scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Pacific time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. As part of the final year of BracketBusters, Eastern will play a return game against SHSU in Huntsville, Texas -- probably in the 2014-15 season. Eastern hosted and played the Bearkats last Dec. 15 in the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, won by SHSU 45-42. The two football teams will play each other again in regular season meetings this fall on Sept. 28 in Huntsville and in 2014 in Cheney.

* Venky Jois already has 50 blocked shots this season to rank second in school history, just one behind the school record of 51 set by Paul Butorac in 2006. Teammate Martin Seiferth has 39 to rank fourth. Jois already ranks ninth on EWU’s career list. With 121 as a team, the Eagles are just nine blocked shots away from the school record of 130 set in the 2005-06 season.

* Starting senior guard Jeffrey Forbes has essentially not played the last four games because of a cut that required stitches between the pinkie finger and ring finger of his shooting hand. He did not play versus Montana State, played in just the final seconds of the games against Montana and Southern Utah and only the final seconds of the first half versus Portland State. He suffered the injury late in the game versus Northern Colorado on Jan. 19, and one game earlier had missed the first game of his career because of a knee injury suffered in an automobile accident involving one of the team’s mini-vans. Forbes has now played 112 games in his career – which ranks sixth in school history and is just seven behind the school record of 119 set by Marc Axton from 2002-05. If he doesn’t miss any more games, Forbes will tie the record on Senior Day on March 2 versus North Dakota.

* Thus far, the Eagles have used 10 different starting lineups because of a variety of reasons and obstacles placed before them. But the one constant has been the continued development of young players, including five freshmen/sophomores who each have started at least two games with a collective total of 67 starts this season (sophomores Parker Kelly and Martin Seiferth, and true freshmen Venky Jois, Thomas Reuter and Daniel Hill).

* Until Montana sank 46.2 percent on Feb. 2, Eastern held its last 10 opponents to 44 percent or less shooting from the field. After allowing non-conference opponents to make a collective 48.0 percent against them, the Eagles have allowed conference opponents to shoot at just a 39.3 percent clip (second in the BSC). EWU is now 6-4 when it holds opponents to 43.5 percent or less and 0-12 when it doesn’t. The Eagles made only 38.0 percent versus Idaho State on Dec. 22, but had a season-best defensive effort of 37.9 percent against the Bengals. Eastern bettered that two games later by holding Montana State to 34.5 percent, then held the Bobcats to just 30.3 percent in the rematch on Jan. 31.

* True freshman Venky Jois had a career high seven assists and equaled his career high with 14 rebounds in Eastern’s 72-68 victory over Montana State on Jan. 31, and he also had eight points and three blocked shots. Jois, however, missed the last 3:15 with an ankle injury, and then sat out the Montana game two days later. Jois has established himself as a bonafide contender for All-Big Sky Conference honors, as well as the league’s Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year accolades. He has had nine double-doubles this season to lead the Big Sky and rank 17th in NCAA Division I (through games of Feb. 3). He also leads the league and ranks 20th nationally in rebounding (9.7), and is 30th in the nation and tops in the Big Sky in blocked shots (2.4 per game). His 50 blocked shots this season already ranks second in school history, just one behind the school record of 51 set by Paul Butorac in 2006. He is also 12th in the league in scoring (13.1) and 10th in field goal percentage (.493). He had 20 points, 13 rebounds, three blocked shots and five assists in a 76-65 win over Portland State as he came two points and a rebound away from his season highs. Against Northern Colorado on Jan. 19, Jois equaled the school record of seven blocked shots set earlier this season by teammate Martin Seiferth, as Jois finished with yet another monster game with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and the seven blocks. He had his best game as an Eagle with 22 points and 13 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting against Cal State Fullerton in EWU’s 79-75 win on Nov. 30 to earn Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors. In January, he was selected to the Collegehoopsdaily.com All-Big Sky Conference team from the first half of the season, and was also the school’s Scholar-Athlete of the Month for January. Earlier in the season, he was selected to the All-Tournament Team for his performances in the 2012 College Basketball Experience (CBE) Hall of Fame Classic in Santa Clara, Calif. He had a pair of double-doubles with 19 points and 11 rebounds in EWU’s 75-70 win over South Carolina Upstate and 16 points and 11 boards one game earlier in an 86-83 loss to Utah Valley. Jois came to Eastern after winning a pair of MVP awards in Australia. He was the Bob Staunton 2012 U-20 National Championship MVP, after leading the Victoria State Team to the championship and an unbeaten record. Saint Mary’s College and NBA standout Patty Mills won the Bob Staunton MVP Award in 2006 and 2007. In addition, Jois was the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) Youth Player of the Year in 2011, an award given to the top under-23 player and previously won by college and NBA standouts Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut.

* Eastern’s game with Idaho on Dec. 6 was the 100th in the Eastern career of senior guard Jeffrey Forbes, and fellow senior Kevin Winford played in his 100th on Dec. 22 versus Idaho State. Forbes, who has now scored 954 points in his 112-game Eastern career, needs only 46 points to become the 16th player in school history to hit the 1,000-point mark. Currently sixth in career games played, he could break Marc Axton’s (2002-05) school record of 119 games played. Forbes has averaged 29.8 minutes per game in his Eastern career with 98 starts. He ranks eighth in school history wit­­­h 113 career steals, and is also third in 3-pointers made (164) and fourth in attempts (434). Winford has started 43 of the 108 games he has played (10th-most games played in school history), averaging 19.1 minutes per game. He has made 133-of-395 3-pointers in his career to rank fifth in school history in both categories, with a total of 675 points scored.

* After leading NCAA Division I in 3-pointers made per game through games of Nov. 30, Eastern is now 19th through games of Feb. 3. The Eagles are averaging a league-leading 8.4 makes per game while attempting an average of 25.0.  Last year, when EWU set school records with 283 makes and 793 attempts, Eastern averaged 8.8 made treys per game on an average of 24.8 attempts.

* Eastern is leading the Big Sky Conference in blocked shots with 121 already for an average of 5.5 per game to rank 15th in NCAA Division I. Individual Eagles are ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the league, with Venky Jois averaging 2.4 per game to rank 30th in NCAA Division I and Martin Seiferth averaging 1.8 to rank 81st. The Eagles had a school-record 130 in the 2005-06 season (4.3 average per game).

* The Eagles are third in the Big Sky in offensive rebounds with an average of 11.4 per game (Southern Utah 12.0, Montana State 11.7, Sacramento State 11.0). Martin Seiferth has a 2.4 average and Venky Jois is averaging 2.3 to rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the league. A year ago, Eastern averaged 12.0 offensive boards per game to lead the league.

* Three Eagles rank in the top six in school history in career 3-pointers made. Jeffrey Forbes is third (164), Kevin Winford is fifth (133) and Collin Chiverton is sixth (119). In attempts, Forbes is fourth (434), Winford (395) is fifth and Chiverton is sixth (311), and Chiverton is also 10th in career 3-point field goal percentage (38.3).

* With the league expanded to 11 teams, the Big Sky Conference Tournament includes seven teams this year and will take place March 14-16 at the site of the regular season champion. The host receives a first-round bye, with the other six teams playing for the other three berths in the semifinals. A year ago, Eastern beat Idaho State 81-75 in the first round before losing to eventual champion Montana 74-66 in the semifinals.

 
 

More EWU Notes

* Six-foot-10 sophomore Martin Seiferth has made 61.3 percent of his shots from the field to rank second in the Big Sky. Thus far, Seiferth is averaging 7.9 points, 5.0 rebounds (16th in the Big Sky) and 1.8 blocked shots per game (third in the Big Sky). His 39 blocked shots already rank as the fourth-most in school history. He scored 13 points with six rebounds and four blocked shots in EWU’s 76-65 win over Portland State. He made 6-of-7 shots from the field and had 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in just 26 minutes of action at North Dakota on Jan. 17. Earlier this season he was the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week after finishing with 27 points, 17 rebounds and a school-record eight blocked shots in a 96-79 loss at Cal State Northridge. The transfer from Oregon had to sit out last season because of NCAA transfer rules.

* Sophomore Parker Kelly out of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane equaled his career high with 17 points in EWU’s 76-65 win over Portland State on Jan. 28 and had 15 in EWU’s next game versus Montana State. He made 5-of-8 3-point shots against the Vikings, and is now averaging 9.8 points per game in his last 16 games after scoring just 10 in the first five games he played. He has started 10 of the 21 games he has played this season, and is now averaging 8.0 points and 1.0 assists per game, while making 33-of-90 3-point shots for 36.7 percent.

* Senior Collin Chiverton scored 20 points against Montana State on Jan. 31, including Eastern’s final six in the last 1:21 of the 72-68 victory. He made 7-of-14 shots and 5-of-5 free throws in the game for his 14th 20-point performance of his career and his second of the season. He had a season-best 22 points against Northern Arizona on Jan. 10 for his best performance since a career-high 26 against Seattle on Jan. 16, 2012. He played versus Montana on Jan. 3 for his first appearance since Nov. 23. Last year’s Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year, Chiverton missed six games from Nov. 30 to Dec. 22 following the death of a close friend in San Francisco. Previously, his mother passed away just as the season began. Chiverton scored just 15 points in EWU’s first three outings, but has bumped his average to 10.4 for the season. Foul trouble hindered him early in the year, and he scored 19 points in just 18 minutes before fouling out with 6:20 to play against South Carolina Upstate in EWU’s 75-70 win. One game later, he made 7-of-15 attempts from the field, including 4-of-12 3-point attempts, versus Santa Clara for his second-straight 19-point game. A year ago, he had 12 20-point performances, but was slowed late in the year with injuries.

* Since becoming eligible in mid-December, Australian point guard Daniel Hill has averaged 1.8 points, 1.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game in an average of 15.1 minutes per game (13 total games). He made the first start of his career at point guard on Jan. 17 at North Dakota as an injury replacement for Kevin Winford, and he had a season-high five assists, four rebounds and a steal in 38 minutes. He also had five assists one game later versus Northern Colorado when he played 35 minutes in place of Winford for the second-straight game. Hill had three assists in EWU’s 82-59 win over Northern Arizona on Jan. 10, and a season-high eight points in his third game as an Eagle in a 57-54 victory over Idaho State on Dec. 22.

* Senior point guard Kevin Winford has had his most productive outings in two years with 13 points in both meetings versus Montana State this season. He made 3-of-3 shots from the 3-point stripe and had six assists in the first meeting, a 70-68 overtime loss in Bozeman on Jan. 5. He had 10 of his 13 points in the second half and added seven rebounds and four assists in the rematch on Jan. 31 in Cheney, won by the Eagles 72-68. His performances against the Bobcats were his  best since scoring 15 versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 3, 2011. He also had his most assists since dishing out a career-high seven versus New Hope on Dec. 4, 2010 (he scored 39 points in that game with a school-record 10 3-pointers). In the first meeting with MSU, Eastern played its second game with Winford in the lineup as starting point guard, with Justin Crosgile no longer on the team after starting the first 12 games.

* True freshman Thomas Reuter has scored in double figures five times this season, including 11 in EWU’s loss to Montana on Feb. 2. For the season, he has started 12 of EWU’s 22 games and is averaging 22.2 minutes, 5.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He had a season-high 16 points with five rebounds in EWU’s 79-75 win over Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 30.

* Eastern made 52 percent of its shots and had just four turnovers in the first half against Montana State on Jan. 31 in Cheney. The Eagles led by five at intermission and by as many as 13 early in the second half, but the Eagles made only 27 percent and had nine turnovers in the second half. The Bobcats rallied to pull within one, but Collin Chiverton scored the final six points for the Eagles, who had their best defensive performance of the season in holding MSU to 30.3 percent shooting.

* Eastern successfully began its three-game homestand by leading from start to finish in a 76-65 win over Portland State on Monday (Jan. 28). The Eagles led 33-25 at halftime, then went on a 9-2 run to start the second half and open a double-digit lead it held most of the rest of the game. In the four games prior to that – all losses – the Eagles out-scored opponents 125-114 in the first half, but were out-scored 152-86 in the second half (average differential of 16 points, 38-22).

* Despite starting two true freshmen and two sophomores, a key to the 76-65 win over Portland State game on Jan. 28 was EWU’s composure. The Eagles had just eight turnovers – equaling their fewest since a season-low four versus Idaho on Dec. 6.

* En route to a season-best 50.0 percent shooting night against Northern Arizona on Jan. 10 in an 82-59 win, Eastern had a season-high 44 points inside the paint and a season-high 20 second-chance points. The Eagles had 17 offensive boards and out-rebounded the Lumberjacks 49-37.

* Eastern’s 40-22 lead at halftime against Northern Arizona on Jan. 10 was easily its biggest halftime advantage of the season, having owned an 11-point lead at intermission against Utah Valley in November. But the loss to Utah Valley – as well as losses to Idaho on Dec. 6, Montana State on Jan. 5 and Sacramento State on Jan. 12 – came after EWU held double-digit second-half advantages. Eastern is now 5-6 when leading or tied at halftime, and 1-10 when it trails.

* The 54 points the Eagles allowed in a three-point win over Idaho State on Dec. 22 were the fewest they surrendered by 16 – the previous best for the Eagles came in a 75-70 win over South Carolina-Upstate on Nov. 21. Eastern held the Bengals to 37.9 percent shooting from the field, which at the time was EWU’s best defensive effort of the season.

* As an illustration of their balance, the Eagles had six double figure scoring performances on the road at Montana and Montana State, but none were by the same player. Against the Grizzlies on Jan. 3, Venky Jois led the way with 16, with Collin Chiverton and Thomas Reuter coming off the bench to score 15 and 14, respectively. Two nights later at MSU, senior starters Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford scored 18 and 13, respectively, and sophomore starter Martin Seiferth had 11.

* Portland State and Eastern are in the third year of a five-sport rivalry cup called “The Dam Cup.” Eastern Washington currently leads the competition, 8-5.  The so-named rivalry refers to the four dams linking Oregon and Washington that one passes on the 339-mile drive from the Portland State campus to the Eastern Washington campus. Located along the Columbia River, they are Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, The John Day Dam and the McNary Dam. The winner of the Dam Cup will possess The Dam Trophy acknowledging the achievement for the following year. Portland State currently possesses the Dam Trophy having won the inaugural Dam Cup in 2010-11 by a 9-8 score, and the 2011-12 Cup by a 15-2 score. The annual football game is worth four points, the women's soccer match is worth one point, each women's volleyball match is worth two points for a total of four points possible, and each men's and women's basketball game is worth two points for a total of four points possible in each sport, The total points possible are 17, which means that to win the cup a school would need to win at least nine points. Here is a listing of the 2012-13 Dam Cup Series games and current point totals: Volleyball - Sept. 17 PSU 3, @ EWU 0 - PSU leads 2-0; Soccer - Sept. 30 @ PSU 4 @ EWU 0 - PSU leads 3-0; Volleyball - Oct. 18 @ PSU 3, EWU 0 - PSU leads 5-0; Football - Nov. 17 EWU 41, @ PSU 34 - PSU leads 5-4; Women's Basketball - Jan. 21 EWU 68, @ PSU 56 - EWU leads 6-5; Men's Basketball - Jan. 28 @ EWU 76, PSU 65; Men's Basketball - Feb. 18 @ PSU; Women's Basketball - Feb. 21 @ EWU.

* The Eagles had a season high 17 3-pointers made versus UC Davis on Dec. 17, and have attempted at least 39 3-point attempts on three occasions. Eastern had 41 versus UC Davis and a season-high 42 against Utah Valley on Nov. 20.  Eastern’s 17 3-pointers were one behind the school record of 18 set on Dec. 4, 2010, against New Hope. Eastern had a record 48 3-point attempts on Jan. 19, 1995, versus Sacramento State.

* The Montana loss on Jan. 3 was Eastern’s first game without former starting point guard Justin Crosgile, who left the team for personal reasons to be closer to his family. Crosgile, who is from Patterson, N.J., and is a transfer from St. Joseph’s (Pa.), started EWU’s first 12 games and averaged 14.7 points, 5.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.

 
 

EWU vs. Sacramento State Series Notes

* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 26-11 versus Sacramento State, and the two schools did not play against each other prior to that.

* The Eagles have won 19 of their last 26 games against the Hornets, and have a 16-3 record versus Sacramento State in Cheney and a 10-8 record in Sacramento. Until losing 75-71 on Feb. 4, 2012, Eastern had won the last 15 meetings at home against Sac State, dating back to a 68-67 Hornet victory on Jan. 19, 1995.

* Until falling 74-67 at Sacramento State on Feb. 7, 2010, the Eagles had won the last eight meetings dating back to an 88-69 Hornet victory on Jan. 7, 2006, also in Sacramento.

* Earlier this season, Eastern had two cold stretches and that was enough for Sacramento State to pick up a huge 60-53 road win over the Eagles in a Big Sky Conference battle Jan. 12 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.  Eastern led by 10 at intermission after a 52 percent shooting half, but then made only 2-of-13 shots to start the second half, including a 6:37 scoreless stretch. Later, Eastern was down 50-43, but then went on a 10-2 run to regain a 53-52 lead on a basket by true freshman Venky Jois with 2:23 remaining. Sophomore Martin Seiferth had a pair of three-point plays in the run, including a rebound dunk, and Jois scored the other two baskets. But Eastern missed its last four shots of the game, and Sac State closed out the scoring by making 6-of-6 free throws in the last 1:47, plus a key basket with 45 seconds left.  Senior point guard Kevin Winford finished with 12 points and six assists to lead the Eagles, with Jois and Seiferth each scoring 10. Jois also had seven rebounds, six blocked shots, two steals and two assists, and true freshman Thomas Reuter finished with five assists and a pair of steals. Jeffrey Forbes and Parker Kelly each scored eight for the Eagles, but both were scoreless in the second half.

 
 

EWU vs. Northern Arizona Series Notes

* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 25-33 versus Northern Arizona, including a 7-20 record in Flagstaff, Ariz., 17-12 in Cheney and 1-1 on neutral courts. Eastern trails in the all-time series 25-34 (7-20 in Flagstaff, 17-12 in Cheney, 1-2 neutral). The only meeting before Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I was an 84-80 NAU victory on Dec. 20, 1969, in Fresno, Calif.

* Despite sweeping NAU in the 2011-12 season, the Eagles have lost 10 of the last 16 meetings. A 54-50 home victory in the 2008-09 season broke a five-game losing streak against the Lumberjacks. In winning 74-68 at NAU on Feb. 2, 2012, Eastern snapped a seven-game losing streak in Flagstaff, Ariz., dating back to Jan. 15, 2004, when Eastern was victorious 63-57.  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, and again in 2012.

* 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.

* Earlier this season, senior forward Collin Chiverton scored eight points in a key 16-1 run in the first half to help the Eagles romp past NAU 82-59 Jan. 10 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Chiverton scored a season-high 22 points to lead four Eagles in double figures, with forward Venky Jois recording his seventh double-double of the season with 14 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots. Eastern made a season-best 50.0 percent of its shots from the field and held NAU to 34.9 percent – EWU’s second-best effort of the year. Six-foot-10 center Martin Seiferth made 6-of-8 shots from the field and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for the Eagles. Senior guard Jeffrey Forbes added 11 points, four rebounds and two steals. True freshman Thomas Reuter finished with six points, six rebounds and a season-high seven assists for the Eagles, and true freshman point guard Daniel Hill came off the bench to dish out three assists. Eastern trailed early 10-2 and 17-16, but Chiverton started the 16-1 run with a 3-pointer that gave EWU the lead for good. He hit another trey, then made a pair of free throws with 4:18 to play that gave EWU a 32-18 lead. The lone points for the Lumberjacks in that stretch was a free throw at the 6:02 mark. Northern Arizona missed nine-straight shots and had four turnovers during the run. The Eagles led by as many as 25 in the second half and no fewer than 16 after intermission.

 
 

Records Watch

* Eastern is nearing a pair of blocked shots records. Venky Jois already has 50 blocked shots this season to rank second in school history, just one behind the school record of 51 set by Paul Butorac in 2006. With 121 as a team, the Eagles are just nine blocked shots away from the school record of 130 set in the 2005-06 season. In addition, Martin Seiferth has 39 blocks to rank fourth on EWU’s single season list, and Jois already ranks ninth on EWU’s career list. Jois equaled the school record of Seiferth with seven blocked shots against Northern Colorado on Jan. 19. Seiferth broke the previous school record of six that had stood for 25 years when he had seven at Cal State Northridge on Nov. 12.

* Senior guard Jeffrey Forbes has played in 112 games to rank sixth in school history, and could break Marc Axton’s (2002-05) school record of 119 games played. If he doesn’t miss any more games, Forbes will tie the record on Senior Day on March 2 versus North Dakota. The only two games he missed in his career came this season versus North Dakota (1/17/13) because of a knee injury and against Montana State (1/31/13) because of a hand injury. A 98-game starter, Forbes has averaged 29.8 minutes per game in his Eastern career. He ranks eighth in school history wit­­­h 113 career steals, just four from reaching No. 6. He is also third in 3-pointers made (164) and fourth in attempts (434). He is 20 makes and 65 attempts away from school records. In his career at the free throw line, Forbes has made what would be a school record at 87.9 percent (152-of-173), but he is 51 attempts shy to meet the minimum of two free throw attempts per game. Forbes set a single season school record for free throw percentage (.900, 54-of-60) as a sophomore. He also made 55 3-pointers in the 2010-11 season to rank as the 11th-most in Eastern history (now 13th entering the 2012-13 season).

* Senior guard Kevin Winford has played in 108 career games to rank 10th in school history, and also ranks in the top 10 on several Eastern season and career lists for 3-point shooting. On career charts, his 133 makes and his 395 attempts both rank fifth. 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). He owns school records for single game 3-pointers made (10) and attempted (23) when he finished with 39 points – fifth-best in school history – in his sophomore season against New Hope (12/4/10).

* Senior forward Collin Chiverton and his 119 3-pointers rank sixth on EWU’s top 10 career list, and his 311 attempts are sixth and his .383 percentage is currently 10th. In the five seasons he has played since his junior year in high school, teams that Chiverton has played on have won 135 of 184 games for a .734 winning percentage. His junior college and high school teams won 114 of 131 games (87 percent).

* Sophomore center Martin Seiferth broke a school record that stood for 25 years with seven blocked shots in a 96-79 loss to Cal State Northridge on Nov. 12. Seiferth, who also had 27 points and 17 rebounds in the game, broke the previous record of six set by Dexter Griffen versus Idaho State on Jan. 2, 1987. Seiferth’s 17 rebounds are the sixth-best recorded performance all-time at Eastern. The sophomore from Berlin, Germany, just missed a spot on Eastern’s all-time leading scorers list, with 30 points scored by 10 different players to rank 39th.

 
 

Recent Game Summaries

* Despite an 11-2 start, Eastern couldn’t keep up with league-leading and defending Big Sky Conference champion Montana and fell to the Grizzlies 65-46 Feb. 2 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.  A 19-0 first-half run by the Grizzlies was the major blow, as EWU played without injured starters Venky Jois (ankle) and Jeffrey Forbes (hand). The Grizzlies held EWU to a season-low point total, including only 18 points in the first half. Because of the injuries, Eastern was forced to use its 10th different starting lineup of the season. True freshman Thomas Reuter was the only Eagle in double figures with 11 points. Sophomore Martin Seiferth had nine points, five rebounds and three blocked shots, and sophomore Parker Kelly and senior Kevin Winford each added eight points. Winford finished with five assists and a pair of steals.

* Eastern survived yet another comeback by Montana State and the Eagles opened the second half of the Big Sky Conference season with a hard-fought 72-68 victory over the Bobcats Jan. 31 at Reese Court. Senior Collin Chiverton led the Eagles with 20 points, including four clutch free throws in the final 30 seconds. The Eagles limited Montana State to 30 percent shooting – a season best for the Eagles -- as the Bobcats came up short after rallying from a 13-point deficit in the second half. In a 70-68 loss at Montana State earlier this season, the Eagles led by as many as 15 in the second half before falling. Senior Kevin Winford added 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Eagles, and sophomore Parker Kelly had 15 points. True freshman Venky Jois had a career high seven assists and equaled his career high with 14 rebounds for EWU, and he also had eight points and three blocked shots. But the difference for the Eagles were 10 second half points by Winford and Chiverton’s six in the final 1:21. Those two players combined to make 11-of-23 shots from the field and 7-of-7 free throws.

* True freshman Venky Jois had his ninth double-double of the season with 20 points, 13 rebounds, three blocked shots and five assists, and Eastern opened a three-game homestand by defeating Portland State 76-65 Jan. 28 at Reese Court. The Eagles led from start to finish as four Eagles scored in double figures. Sophomore Parker Kelly equaled his career high with 17 points, sophomore Martin Seiferth had 13 points, six rebounds and four blocks, and senior Kevin Winford added 12 points and three assists. A second true freshman, Thomas Reuter, contributed eight points, eight rebounds and three assists. Against Portland State, Eastern led 33-25 at halftime – the seventh time in EWU’s last nine games the Eagles have led at intermission. In the second half, Eastern outscored PSU 43-40. Jois had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the second half alone as he came two points and a rebound away from his season highs. Led by Jois, Eastern made 57 percent of its shots in the second half and had a 19-12 rebounding advantage. Eastern also had only eight turnovers in the game, including just five versus PSU’s full-court pressure in the second half.

* Read more at: http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index

 
 

Quoting Coach Jim Hayford

On BracketBuster Game Versus Sam Houston State: “It continues our rivalry between Cheney, Wash., and the suburbs of Houston. We’re looking forward to hosting them, in part because it’s the last BracketBuster match-up. They are one of the better defensive teams in the country and have a really-balanced scoring team. It will be a good opponent for us and it will mean we will go back down to Texas and play them there too. Especially for our team, it gives us a chance to take a breath and play a different kind of game. We are not playing for our postseason life (in that game), and we can use it to make us better. It’s another home game and a chance to win on our home floor. I see a lot of positives in playing this game.”

On UM Loss: “When I look back, I have to remember we played four games in eight days. I was worried about how much we had left, and to be shorthanded, I knew that was going to be hard. I really liked the character of our players. I thought we could fight through and do it. We didn’t have enough, and they were a better team.”

On Grizzlies: “What today clearly showed was that Montana is the class of the league, and I give them credit. For us to have won this game, we would have needed each guy to play at the top of his game, because that is what it takes when you play a premier team. We didn’t have all the answers, and Montana will show you where your weaknesses are. I see a lot of positives in our team, and it is going to make this game in future years a real exciting game in Reese Court.”

On Status of Jois: “We expect Venky to play on Thursday. I had to make a tough decision. Do I make him play (against Montana) and risk further injury, or do I say he needs 48-72 hours? That was a tough decision.”

On MSU Win: “Any win is a good win, but this is a big one. Montana State is playing as good of basketball as anybody except maybe Montana. They are a good team, and this was a good win. We did some growing up today. This was a good win. Right now we are building this program with our (young) team. We gut checked it (at the end), and we finished it out with some adversity through the end. That’s good because it’s a growing point. We have had some times where we have hit adversity and not grinded it out. It is really important for us to taste that, and to have success.”

On Defense Versus MSU:  “There’s no secret the reason we won tonight was because we played outstanding defense. They are a hard team to guard because they spread you out, and then they try to take you off the drive. That gets them to the free throw line, and they are a great free throw shooting team. Give credit to our guys for realizing that’s how we defend.”

On Chiverton & Winford Versus MSU: “The big thing for us was down the stretch is that we had seniors step up. Kevin was a great defensive rebounder in the second half, and Collin made free throws down the stretch. That’s showing the young guys how to do it. When you get those kinds of contributions it will be fun. It is going to be a lot better result.”

On Venky Jois: “Venky has been our most consistent player. He is a great leader even though he is only a freshman. The biggest compliment (I can give him) is that I expect him to play that way.”

On Confidence: “Our team is developing confidence, and there is nothing that develops confidence more than a win. (Beating Portland State) was a much-needed win for our team. We are very thankful for that. I am really proud of our team. I believe we can build on this. It showed a lot of character because we were a tired team coming back from Utah.”

On Kevin Winford & Jeffrey Forbes at MSU: “Kevin and Jeff gave great senior performances to lead and show our team how you play on the road. I just want to give those two young men a lot of credit. They both have amazing personal character, are great guys and they really did lead by example.”

On Toughness After ISU Win & WSU Loss:  “We need to keep building toughness. The way you get toughness is you face adversity, and you find success against it. When you face adversity -- and fail against it -- you go up the next time and you look for success. That’s what we are committed to do as a coaching staff.”

On Aggressive Play: “I’m scrappy so I’m going to try to make them scrappy every day. That’s the only way I know how to play basketball. It’s just a truth. The team that plays harder wins. That’s the great equalizer -- there’s talent and whatever, but I hope we just get scrappier.”

 
 
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