Road rout over second-place Northern Colorado helps Eagles significantly in hopes of advancing to the Big Sky Conference Tournament
The Eagles needed a huge effort, but they got a road rout instead – and a school record and season sweep as well.
Sophomore Tyler Harvey set the school’s single season record for 3-pointers made en route to a 31-point effort and Eagles Washington University was impressive in both halves to rout second-place Northern Colorado 80-66 in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday (Feb. 27) in Greeley, Colo.
Harvey made seven 3-pointers, giving him 104 for the season to eclipse the previous record of 103 set by Shanon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. Harvey is now third in Big Sky Conference history, with the record of 124 owned by Northern Arizona’s Stephen Sir (2006-07 season).
Finishing with his sixth 30-point performance of the season, his record-breaking 104th trey came during a 9-0 run that gave the Eagles a 73-54 lead with 4:36 to play. The Eagles also led by as many as 16 in the first half (38-22) and 19 twice early in the second half (61-42 and 64-45).
“It’s becoming routine for Tyler -- a 31-point game and 7-of-11 from three,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “He is becoming a very, very special player.”
The Eagles won for the sixth time in their last eight games in handing UNC its first home loss of the season in 14 tries. More importantly, it gave the Eagles a season sweep over the Bears, which could come into play in tiebreakers at the end of the season. There are still 10 teams jockeying for seven spots in the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
“This is a great win and they were undefeated in home until we beat them,” said Hayford, whose team fell at home to Portland State 87-76 just three days earlier. “Our team showed great character to come back and play this way after Monday’s loss. This was our third game in five days. I’m just really proud of our team – we showed great character and great togetherness.”
The win moves the Eagles from a four-way tie for sixth into a four-way tie for fifth with a 9-8 Big Sky record. Eastern is now 14-14 overall and next plays at North Dakota on Saturday (March 1) in a game that begins at 12:05 p.m. Pacific time and is broadcast by the MidCo Sports Network. The game is also carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com.
North Dakota, which defeated Portland State 83-73 on Thursday, is now in a second-place tie with UNC at 10-7. The Bears fell to 16-10 on the season while North Dakota improved to 13-14 on the year.
Sophomore Venky Jois was the only other Eagle in double figures with 10 points, with juniors Drew Brandon and Martin Seiferth each contributing seven points and six rebounds.
True freshman Ognjen Miljkovic came off the bench to score 11 points for the Eagles, including a pair of 3-pointer to help EWU to 11 for the night. Sophomore point guard Daniel Hill played 18 minutes off the bench because of a hand injury suffered by Brandon, and responded with four assists and 6-of-8 free throws.
“We got some really good bench production,” praised Hayford. “O.G. gave us some really good offense in the second half when we needed some points, and Daniel was solid.
“We won the second half without our point guard,” added Hayford, whose team had a 41-30 lead at halftime and out-scored the Bears 39-36 after intermission. “That showed great toughness. Drew was the loudest guy on the bench cheering on his teammates through the whole half. It was an outstanding, outstanding night to be an Eagle.”
Eastern held UNC to eight points below its season scoring average (74.7) and out-rebounded the Bears 35-25. Eastern finished at 49 percent for the game – including 42 percent from the 3-point stripe – and held UNC to 46 percent shooting overall and 4-of-16 from the arc.
“We executed really well,” said Hayford. “Northern Colorado is a really good rebounding team and we owned the boards. It was a really good team win. We took great care of the ball and only had eight turnovers. And our shot selection from three was really wise.”
Northern Colorado had entered the game making 54 percent of its shots at home, including 46 from 3-point range. Eastern held UNC’s Derrick Barden to just eight points and four rebounds after entering with averages of 13.8 and 8.2, respectively.
“By committee we did a really good job on Barden,” Hayford added. “Our defense was outstanding, but we want to keep getting better on defense.”
Earlier this season at Reese Court, Eastern fell to UND 73-61 before knocking off UNC in overtime by a 94-90 score. Last week, the Eagles picked up an 85-74 win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22, but fell two nights later at home to Portland State by an 87-76 score on Feb. 24.