Eagles need win to wrap-up tournament berth, otherwise, their fate rests in the outcomes of final league games that evening
Saturday, March 8 - Reese Court (5,000)
- Cheney, Wash.
2:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (15-15/10-9 Big Sky) vs. Weber State (16-11/13-6 Big Sky)
Shows take place at the Swinging Doors in Spokane at 6 p.m.
Mondays Jan. 13 to March 10, and feature head coach Jim
Hayford and host Larry Weir. The Swinging
Doors is located at W. 1018 Francis in Spokane. Shows are broadcast
on 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for
“Spokane Radio” and download app).
Webcast: EWU home games and all Big Sky games are carried at http://www.watchbigsky.com and via the new iphone/android app "Watch Big Sky"
Radio: All Eastern games are on 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 21st 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/all EWU Home Games) or ewustats.com (mobile phones/EWU Home Games).
Big Sky Conference Tournament
Thursday, March 13 – Dee Events Center –
1:05 p.m. - #7 Seed vs. #2 Seed
3:30 p.m. - #6 Seed vs. #3 Seed
6 p.m. - #5 Seed vs. #4 Seed
Friday, March 14 – Dee Events Center – Ogden, Utah
3:30 p.m. - Highest Remaining Seed vs. Second-Highest Remaining Seed
6 p.m. - Lowest Remaining Seed vs. #1 Seed Weber State
Saturday, March 15 – Dee Events Center – Ogden, Utah
5 p.m. - Championship Game
If they win, they’re in.
A berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament is on the line Saturday (March 8) for the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team, as the Eagles host Big Sky Conference regular season champion at 2:05 p.m. at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The final regular season game of the season for the Eagles will be carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com. At halftime, the No. 30 jersey of Eagle legend Ron Cox will be retired. Normally it would be Senior Day at Reese Court, but the Eagles have no seniors to honor this season.
Eastern, coming off a 77-69 victory over Idaho State on Thursday (March 6), needs a win over the Wildcats to secure a berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament hosted by the Wildcats March 13-15 in Ogden, Utah. Eastern enters the final day of the regular season in a three-way tie for fifth in the Big Sky with Northern Colorado and Portland State at 10-9, but only three games separate second through ninth place in the standings. The Eagles can finish anywhere from fourth in the league to eighth.
“We get to play in a pressure-filled game against the best team in the conference for our last home game of the season -- that is a great opportunity to have fun and take the challenge on,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford, whose team opened the league season with a 74-67 loss at Weber State on Jan. 2. “We played Weber in the first game 19 games ago, and we thought we should have won because we were in a one-possession game in their gym with a minute to go. We respect them, but we are going to go into it with confidence, and we are going to go in with fight.
“We are playing to make sure we get in,” he added. “They already know they are the home team (for the tournament), and they won the league. I like our motivation a little bit more.”
If they lose, the Eagles will need some help to advance to the tournament. A Montana State win at Sacramento State would benefit the Eagles the most because all ties with MSU go EWU’s way because of their season sweep. A Portland State win at home versus Idaho State would help the Eagles avoid a tiebreaker involving PSU, which swept Eastern. Those games will wrap-up at about 9 p.m. Pacific time – five hours after Eastern’s game. Plus, a Northern Colorado loss at Southern Utah earlier in the evening would help EWU because any multiple team ties involving UNC favor the Eagles.
There are only two of eight scenarios in which EWU would not make it in with a 10-10 record. If PSU loses, Sacramento State wins and Northern Colorado wins at Southern Utah, there would be a three-way tie for sixth with Portland State and Sacramento State. Eastern’s 1-3 record amongst tied teams would not get them in.
Also, if PSU, UNC and Sac State all win, a head-to-head tie with Sacramento State for seventh would eliminate EWU because the two teams split their season series and the Hornets picked up a tie-breaking victory over Weber State.
All other scenarios and ties go in Eastern’s favor. Hayford said his senior-less team hasn’t gotten caught up in the scenarios, but does know the dream of playing in the NCAA Tournament goes through the league tourney.
“We are focused more on this: ‘every basketball dream you want to come true is in your hands right now so let’s go play for that.’ I think just focusing on that positive is so much better than saying don’t lose or all heck will break loose. That has been our focus. We want to realize our dreams, and we don’t have to wait until our team consists of juniors or seniors -- we can do it right now. That has been our focus.”
Despite falling at Portland State 66-59 on Thursday, Weber State still leads the league at 13-6 and is 16-11 overall. But WSU has lost four of its last six heading into Saturday’s game at EWU.
Tyler Harvey is coming off his first career double-double, finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds against Idaho State, and also had career highs of eight assists and four steals. He is the Big Sky’s leading scorer with a 21.8 average, and remains ranked in the top 10 nationally in three categories. His scoring average ranks eighth, and his combined ranking of 14th in 3-pointers per game (5th, 3.63) and 3-point shooting percentage (9th, 44.3) is second in NCAA Division I.
Harvey set the school’s single season record for 3-pointers made on Feb. 27 when he had seven against UNC, breaking the previous record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. Now with 109 after the ISU game, Harvey is second in Big Sky Conference history and 15 behind the league record of 124 (Stephen Sir, Northern Arizona, 2006-07).
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2013-14 EWU men’s basketball
fact book may be found at:
More Eagle Basketball Links
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Story on EWU Basketball Program at Collegeinsider.com -- http://vimeo.com/85124429
Link to Ticket Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
Spokesman-Review EWU Basketball Page: http://www.spokesman.com/ewuhoops
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
The Playoff Picture
In one of the most hotly-contested league races in recent memory, five teams enter their final games with a chance to capture the final three postseason berths available. In addition, teams currently from second to eighth are within three games of each other and are jockeying for seedings in the seven-team Big Sky Conference Tournament taking place March 13-15 at the site of regular season champion Weber State. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record among tied teams, therefore, sweeps are of paramount importance. The second criteria is record versus teams in ascending order of finish, so victories over league champion Weber State are critical. Here is a quick glimpse of the league race, remaining games, sweeps and the current cutoff line of the top seven. Eastern could finish as high as fourth and as low as eighth. A victory clinches either fourth, fifth or sixth for the Eagles, and there are only two of eight scenarios in which EWU would not make it in with a 10-10 record. If there is a three-way tie for sixth with Portland State and Sacramento State, EWU’s 1-3 record amongst tied teams would not get them in. Also, a head-to-head tie with Sacramento State for seventh would eliminate EWU because of a Hornet victory over Weber State. Thus, Eastern’s best chances involve Montana State winning at Sacramento State and Portland State beating Idaho State. Plus, a Northern Colorado loss at Southern Utah would help wrap up a berth for EWU because any multiple team ties involving UNC favor the Eagles.
Weber State (13-6) – Sweeps over UND, MSU; Not Swept
– Final Game @NAU, 2 p.m. Pacific
*Montana (12-7) - Sweep over ISU, MSU, SAC; Swept by UNC – Final Game @NAU, 2 p.m. Pacific
North Dakota (12-8) – Sweeps over NAU, EWU; Swept by WSU – Season Concluded*Northern Arizona (11-8) – Sweeps over PSU; Swept by UNC, UND – Final Game vs. UM, 2 p.m. Pacific
*Eastern Washington (10-9) – Sweeps over MSU, UNC; Swept by PSU, UND – Final Game vs. WSU, 2 p.m. Pacific
*Northern Colorado (10-9) – Sweeps over UM, NAU; Swept by EWU, PSU – Final Game @SUU, 4 p.m. Pacific
*Portland State (10-9) – Sweep over EWU, UNC; Swept by MSU, NAU – Final Game vs. ISU, 7 p.m. Pacific
Montana State (9-10) – Sweep over PSU; Swept by EWU, WSU, UM – Final Game @Sac, 7 p.m. Pacific
*Sacramento State (9-10) – No Sweeps; Swept by UM – Final Game vs. MSU, 7 p.m. Pacific
*Win over Weber State.
* With 40 victories overall and 25 league wins in three seasons under Jim Hayford, this is the best three-year stretch since 2005-08 when Eastern had 41 wins and the best in league play since 2001-04 when the Eagles won 30.
* Eastern is 7-3 in its last 10 league games, and only Montana is better with an 8-2 mark. Eastern has made 49.3 percent of its shots overall (265-of-538) and 42.4 percent from the 3-point stripe (92-of-217) in that 10-game stretch. Eastern is averaging 80.4 points per game, with sophomore Tyler Harvey averaging 24.7 points on 46.7 percent shooting from 3-point range (42-of-90). Other major contributors in that stretch are Venky Jois (13.7ppg, 7.2rpg, 2.0bspg, 3.0apg), Martin Seiferth (10.5ppg, 8.2rpg, 1.4bspg, 71.6 percent shooting) and Drew Brandon (10.9ppg, 5.8rpg, 5.0apg).
* The Eagles concluded February with a 6-2 record, equaling the 2005-06 squad for the best record in that month since going 6-1 in the 2001-02 season. Eastern was 3-4 in February a year ago.
* In the 2003-04 season when EWU won Big Sky regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, the league had a similar logjam. Entering the final weekend of action, six teams were tied for second at 6-7, and last-place Portland State was 5-8 and in the running to finish as high as fifth. This year, entering the Montana-Montana State game on March 3, three games separated second through 10th in the league standings. There was even the potential of an eight-way tie at 11-9 for the final six playoff berths.
* The UNC victory on Feb. 27 was EWU’s sixth win in its last eight games – equaling the school’s best February record in 12 seasons. Coupled with EWU’s win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22, the two-game road winning streak was Eastern’s first since 2003-04 when the Eagles opened the league season with five-straight league road wins en route to the league title. The Eagles then came up just short on March 1 versus UND of their first Big Sky road sweep since the 2003-04 season when the Eagles swept Montana and Montana State late in the year.
* At 15-15 overall, Eastern is already five victories better than last season (10-21) and has three more league wins as it had a year ago (7-13).
* Eastern head coach Jim Hayford had hoped that 10 league victories would get his team to the postseason, but in a year of balance and in the world of tiebreakers, one 10-10 team will get left home this season. “There is nothing I have ever seen like this,” he said. “I do know that if it was a 10-team tournament, there wouldn’t be a bad game out there. There is going to be a good team or two that gets left out of the tournament. That is tough.”
* Overall, the Eagles are now 10-3 at home, including a 7-2 mark during Big Sky play. The Eagles are 3-12 on opponent home courts, with the lone victories a 79-50 romp in Bozeman on Feb. 6, an 85-74 win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22 and an 80-66 victory in its next road game at Northern Colorado on Feb. 27. Last season, EWU was 7-7 at home, including just 5-5 in league games.
* The Eagles are leading the Big Sky Conference in scoring offense (76.1), 3-pointers made per game (8.3), assists (13.7), rebounds (36.8), defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.340) and blocked shots (4.3); and are second in defensive field goal percentage (.444),. The Eagles are last in scoring defense (74.9), but allowed just 50 to Montana State on Feb. 6 and 66 against Northern Colorado (Feb. 27) and Idaho State (March 6). The Bears were nearly 10 points below their season average, which is currently 74.7 and ranks second in the league.
* Two of the greatest strides the Eagles have made this season are in rebounding margin and free throw percentage. Eastern is now fifth in rebounding margin with a plus 1.7 for the season thus far. A year ago, Eastern was 10th out of 11 teams with a minus margin of 4.2 per game. The Eagles were 11th and last in the Big Sky in free throw percentage last year at 65.5 percent, but this year have improved that to 68.5 percent to rank ninth in the Big Sky. The Eagles are shooting at a 70.7 percent clip in conference play (eighth).
* In league games only this season, EWU leads the Big Sky in scoring (76.4), 3-pointers made per game (8.2), assists (13.8), rebounds (36.0) and defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.349) The Eagles are also second in blocked shots (4.4), but are last in points allowed (75.2).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of March 6, Eastern is ranked 26th among 345 schools with an average of 8.3 3-pointers made per game, 59th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5 percent) and 57th in scoring offense (76.1).
* For the most part, win-loss trends continue to show the importance of field goal shooting and field goal shooting defense in EWU’s win-loss record. Eastern is 14-2 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 1-13 when it doesn’t. Also, the Eagles are 15-3 when making at least 45.0 percent of their shots, and 0-12 when they are under that mark. Eastern lost against Portland State on Feb. 24 despite out-shooting the Vikings 50.9 percent to 48.4 percent and fell to North Dakota on March 1 despite a 49.0 to 41.4 advantage. In addition, EWU is 10-2 when it holds opponents to 44.4 percent or less from the field, and 5-13 when opponents shoot better than that mark. Eastern is 14-5 when scoring 71 or more points, and 9-2 when allowing 70 or fewer.
* Finding consistency at home and on the road continues to be of prime importance for the Eagles at this juncture of the season. At home or on neutral courts this season, EWU is 12-3 and has averaged 80.5 points per game on 49.3 percent shooting from the field (42.0 percent from the 3-point line), while allowing 70.5 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting (32.3). But on opponent home courts where EWU is 3-12, the Eagles are averaging 71.8 points on 41.9 percent shooting (33.0), while opponents are scoring at a 79.3 clip and making 46.5 percent from the field (35.9). “It is a growing process to develop a team and get consistency of performance,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford earlier this season. “We will be working on execution and a strong mindset, so that home or away, our shot selection and execution does not vary. The answer is very clear -- we need to put the ball in the basket with consistency. At the same time, we cannot have our mindset be that we will outscore teams. We need to first take a mindset of defensively stopping our opponent. We need to be better on defense.”
* In the Sagarin computer ratings through games of March 6, Eastern is 223rd to rank fourth among Big Sky teams. Weber State is the top Big Sky team at 169th, followed by Montana at 198th and Northern Colorado at 214th. North Dakota is fifth in the Big Sky and 236th overall and Idaho State is ninth in the league and 247th overall (out of 351 teams rated). Eastern’s December opponents Connecticut (20th), Saint Mary’s (66th), Seton Hall (89th) and UC Irvine (101st) are all ranked among the nation’s leaders.
* Through games of March 6, the Eagles are third in the Big Sky Conference and 215th in NCAA Division I (349 schools) in RPI. Montana is the top league school at 171st, followed by Weber State at 184th and EWU. Northern Colorado is 217th, North Dakota is 222nd, Northern Arizona is 248th and Portland State is 256h.
* With 248 3-pointers on the season, EWU is just 35 from the school record of 283 EWU had in Jim Hayford’s first season as EWU’s head coach in 2012. The Eagles are on pace to finish the regular season with 256. The Big Sky record is 317 set by Portland State in 2009. Eastern’s record for attempts is 793 in 2012, and the Eagles currently have 662 (on pace to finish with 684).
* Ron Cox, who earned All-America recognition all four seasons he played basketball for Eastern, will have his No. 30 jersey retired in ceremonies taking place March 8 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The ceremony in his honor will take place at halftime of EWU’s home game versus Weber State, which starts at 2:05 p.m. Pacific time. Current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey is the only other Eastern player to have his jersey retired, and Cox’s No. 30 will now hang next to No. 3. Formerly from nearby Coulee City, Wash., Cox played four seasons for the Eagles from 1973-77. He had record totals of 1,741 points and 1,273 rebounds in leading Eastern to a 77-30 record and three Evergreen Conference titles. In his first two years playing for head coach Jerry Krause, the Eagles played in Memorial Fieldhouse along the East side of Washington Street. But the Special Events Center opened across the street in fall of 1975, and his final two seasons were played in the new facility (later additionally named Reese Court). In his senior season, in which the Eagles finished 25-4, Cox helped Eastern start a school-record 31-game home winning streak, which would continue until Dec. 8, 1978. Cox received his bachelor’s degree at Eastern in 1978 and his master’s degree in 1995. Drafted in the sixth round of the 1977 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a foot injury ended his professional career before it even started. Cox went on to a highly-successful high school coaching career which included 388 victories in 26 seasons. He was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998, and in 2011 was admitted to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Eagle Player Notes
* Now with a school-record 109 3-pointers on the season, Tyler Harvey has sole possession of second on the Big Sky list, passing the 105 of Cory Schwab from Northern Arizona in the 2000-01 season. Former BSC record holder Shannon Taylor from Eastern is now fourth on the list with 103 in the 1998-99 season, and the league record is 124 set by Stephen Sir of NAU in 2006-07.
* The combined NCAA Division I 3-point shooting rankings (through games of March 6) of Tyler Harvey add up to 14 (5th in average made at 3.63 and 9th in percentage at 44.3), ranking him second nationally. Currently first is Ethan Wragge of Creighton with a total ranking of 12 (10th 3.28, 2nd 48.2), Brady Heslip of Baylor has a total ranking of 17 (13th 3.17, 4th 46.8) and Karvel Anderson from Robert Morris has a total ranking of 18 (12th 3.22, 6th 46.2).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of March 6, Tyler Harvey is fifth in 3-pointers made per game (3.63), ninth in 3-point percentage (44.3 percent), eighth in scoring (21.8) and 16th in free throw percentage (.889). Drew Brandon is 50th in assists (5.1) and Venky Jois is 57th with nine double-doubles and 95th in rebounding (8.0).
* Individually, Tyler Harvey continues to lead the Big Sky in scoring (21.8), ahead of North Dakota’s Troy Huff (19.7), Weber State’s Davion Berry (19.0) and Montana’s Kareem Jamar (18.9). Venky Jois is 12th (13.6) and Drew Brandon is 27th (10.6). Harvey and Jois are both sophomores, and no other sophomores or freshmen rank in the top 20. Harvey also leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.6) and free throw percentage (.889), and is fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.443). Brandon leads in assists (5.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.1) and ranks seventh in rebounding (6.5). Jois is third in blocked shots (1.6), fourth in rebounding (8.0) and 10th in field goal percentage (.531), and Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.675), fourth in blocked shots (1.4) and 12th in rebounding (5.5).
* In league only statistics, Tyler Harvey leads in scoring (23.3) and 3-pointers made per game (3.7), and is second in free throw percentage (.898). Drew Brandon is second in assists (4.8), is third in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.9), seventh in rebounding (6.3), eighth in free throw percentage (.819) and 28th in scoring (10.1). Venky Jois is 11th in scoring (14.3), third in rebounds (8.0) and third in blocked shots (1.6), and Martin Seiferth is first in field goal percentage (.719), fourth in blocked shots (1.4) and eighth in rebounding (6.2).
* Freshman Felix Von Hofe has provided a spark off the bench in EWU’s last two games, scoring 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the 3-point arc. Included was a career high 11 points against Idaho State on March 6. For the season, he has played in 27 games and is averaging 2.7 points and 8.3 minutes per game, while making 18-of-55 (32.7 percent) triples. “We recruited Felix to be a three-point-shooting specialist,” said head coach Jim Hayford. “He is a really good shooter. He has really come on particularly in the second half of league. He may be a freshman but he has a lot of international experience so being in a big game is something he looks forward to. Especially with Drew’s injury, we knew he was going to get looks.”
* Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds versus North Dakota on March 1, and also finished with three steals and a pair of blocked shots. He was recently selected by collegehoopsdaily.com to its All-Big Sky team for the first three months of the season. He is EWU’s second-leading scorer with a 13.6 average (12th in the Big Sky) on 53.1 percent shooting from the field (10th). He is also averaging a team-leading 8.0 rebounds (fourth), as well as 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game (third). So far he has nine double-doubles this season. He had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I, and now has 18 in his 58-game career (56 as a starter). He is averaging 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocked shots per game in his career, and holds the school record with 114 career blocks.
* Eastern is 6-3 in the seven games this season junior Martin Seiferth has scored in double figures, and 6-2 when he’s had at least nine rebounds. He has scored in double figures in seven of EWU’s last 10 outings, including double-doubles with 13 points and 15 rebounds against North Dakota on March 1 and 14 points and 10 boards against Idaho State on March 6. In his last 10 games, he is averaging 10.5 points and 8.2 rebounds while making 71.6 percent of his shots from the field (48-of-67). For the season, he is averaging 7.4 points and 5.5 rebounds on 67.5 percent shooting. As a result, he is currently the school record holder for career field goal percentage at 64.7 percent, just ahead of Ron Cox (1974-77) at 62.9 percent. In his 61-game EWU career (57 as a starter), the Oregon transfer is averaging 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. His 109 career blocked shots rank second in school history behind the 108 of teammate Venky Jois.
* With the exception of seven minutes versus Idaho State, Eastern has played its last 2 1/2 games without starting point guard Drew Brandon, who missed the North Dakota game with a hand injury suffered against Northern Colorado. He ranks among the league leaders in four categories. He has averages of 10.6 points (27th), 6.5 rebounds (seventh), 5.1 assists (first) and an assist-to-turnover ratio of +2.1 (first) after his first 29 games in NCAA Division I (28 as a starter). In a home sweep on Feb. 13 and 15, Brandon had 18 assists and just two turnovers in 75 minutes in EWU’s home sweep over Sacramento State and Northern Arizona – including performances of nine assists and one turnover in each game. He already has five double-doubles, including a near-miss of a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds versus Montana State in a 77-72 win. He had a double double-double during one homestand this season -- he had 11 points and 13 rebounds versus North Dakota on Jan. 30, then had 15 points and 12 assists in a 94-90 overtime victory over Northern Colorado on Feb. 1. His 12 assists were a career high, and rank as the fourth-most in school history (the record is 18). He followed that with his fifth double figure rebounding game with 10 at Montana State on Feb. 6, then had a career-high 19 points at Montana two nights later. He equaled what is now the 16th-most assists in school history with 10 assists against Walla Walla and MSU. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists versus Washington on Nov. 17 in just his second D-I game. He was the lone newcomer to EWU’s opening night starting lineup.
* Junior Parker Kelly, a starter in EWU’s first 20 games this season and 17 in his sophomore season, came off the bench in three-straight games before starting again on Feb. 13 in an 85-72 win versus Sacramento State. He responded with a game-high 18 points, including 15 in the first half on 6-of-10 shooting in helping EWU open a 21-point lead. He then had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the 3-point stripe in EWU’s 84-65 win over Northern Arizona on Feb. 15. Also EWU’s top defender, he is averaging 9.7 points and 34.6 minutes per game this season, and 7.9 points with 143 career 3-pointers (fifth in school history) in his 91-game career (45 as a starter).
* Sharp-shooting sophomore guard Tyler Harvey hit nine 3-pointers en route to a 37-point outing in EWU’s 84-65 win over Northern Arizona on Feb. 15, to go along with performances of 36 and 38 he’s had since Jan. 23. Now with three of the top 17 performances in school history, only Rodney Stuckey (45, 38, 36, 36) and David Peed (44, 37, 37) have accomplished that feat. Harvey’s nine 3-pointers against NAU were one from the school record he tied on Feb. 1 in his 38-point effort versus Northern Colorado. He had 31 points and seven more 3-pointers in the rematch versus UNC on Feb. 27, giving him a total of 69 points and 17 treys in a season sweep over UNC for the Eagles.
* Not only is he the Big Sky’s leading scorer, but Eastern’s Tyler Harvey has become a dead-eye free throw shooter for the Eagles. A year ago in early February, Harvey was barely seeing the court for the Eagles. But he earned playing time at the end of the season, and has scored in double figures in 36 of EWU’s last 38 games, with a streak of 23 snapped versus North Dakota on Jan. 30. The sophomore made only 43.5 percent of his free throws as a freshman, but this season is leading the Big Sky in games overall (.889) and is second in league play (.898). He has made 106-of-116 (.914) in his last 15 outings, including a 13-of-13 effort at Northern Arizona on Jan. 16, a Big Sky and EWU record 20-of-20 versus Southern Utah on Jan. 23, an 11-of-11 effort at Montana on Feb. 8 and two other 8-of-8 efforts. “He had all the individual workout records for making free throws (last year), so we couldn’t figure out what it was,” recalled Hayford. “He really disciplined himself all year through the offseason to work on his foul shooting.”
* After missing six-straight games with an ankle injury, Ognjen Miljkovic averaged 19.7 points in his first three games back. He had 13 points and seven rebounds against Southern Utah (1/23/14) in his first career start, then had 32 points four days later against Portland State (1/27/14) to equal what is now the 31st-best performance in EWU history. He scored 10 of his points after halftime against SUU, including a go-ahead 3-pointer to start the second half that gave the Eagles the lead for good. He scored 17 in the first half versus PSU and made 11-of-13 shots from the field with four 3-pointers. He then scored 14 against North Dakota on Jan. 30. Until the SUU game, Miljkovic hadn’t played since scoring 15 points against Connecticut on Nov. 28. He is now averaging 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in an average of 18.6 minutes per game.
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey has now averaged 21.2 points per game in his last 37 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. In fact, his one-year improvement by 14.1 points per game ranks third in the nation. A year ago in EWU’s last eight games, he scored 132 points (16.5 average) on 55 percent shooting from the field (52-of-94, including 20-of-44 3-point attempts). In the first 13 games he played in the 2012-13 season, Harvey scored just 17 points (by contrast, in the first 13 games this season he scored 261 with an average of 20.1 per game). In his freshman season, he played in 21 of EWU’s 31 games and averaged 14.0 minutes and 7.1 points per game. He currently has a 15.7 career scoring average in 51 games (34 as a starter).
Eagle Records Watch
* With 109 3-pointers in 28 games, Tyler Harvey has broken the school record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999. His average of 3.63 per game is on pace to finish the regular season with 112 (31 games), 15 behind the Big Sky record of 124. Harvey has already scored 653 points to rank third in school history, and his 21.8 average currently is third behind only the averages of 24.6 and 24.2 that Rodney Stuckey had in the 2007 and 2006 seasons, respectively.
* Venky Jois has moved ahead of Martin Seiferth for the school record for career blocked shots. Jois has 114 and Seiferth has 109, as they both surpassed the former record of 99 set by Paul Butorac (2004-07).
* Martin Seiferth ranks first in school history in career field goal percentage (.649, ranking just ahead of Ron Cox at .629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently third in 3-point field goal percentage (44.1 percent) and eighth in 3-pointers made (132), and Parker Kelly is 10th in 3-point percentage (39.4 percent) and fifth in 3-pointers made (143). Kelly’s 84.2 percent shooting from the free throw line in his career would rank third in school history (the record is 84.9) if he had enough attempts to qualify (he has 152 and needs 182).
* En route to what is now the 11th-best scoring night in school history with 36 points, sophomore Tyler Harvey finished a perfect 20-of-20 from the free throw line in EWU’s 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). He broke the previous school and conference record of 16-of-16 by set by Jason Lewis against Weber State on Jan. 27, 2001. The NCAA record is 24-of-24. In addition, Harvey’s 20 charity shots tied the Big Sky record and broke the school mark of 17 set by Matt Piper against Humboldt State on Dec. 28, 1982. His free throw attempts were one shy of Piper’s 21 in that game. He also scored 38 against Northern Colorado (Feb. 1) and 37 versus Northern Arizona (Feb. 15) to rank sixth and eighth, respectively, in school history. Previously, Harvey opened league play with a 30-point effort against Weber State (1/2/14) when he equaled what is now the 42nd-best performance in school history. He scored 21 in the first half alone en route to equaling the career high of 30 he set in EWU’s victory on Nov. 29 versus Seattle.
* Eastern set a pair of school records for free throws by finishing 38-of-49 in a 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). The previous team record for made free throws was 34 set against Sacramento State (1/19/95) and Whitman (11/17/09), and the old mark for attempts was 48 versus Sacramento State (1/19/95).
Recent Game Recap
* In Eastern’s most recent game, the Eagles held Idaho State to 34 percent shooting from the field – including just 5-of-26 3-point attempts – in a wire-to-wire 77-69 victory March 6 at Reese Court. A trio of players – sophomore Tyler Harvey, junior Parker Kelly and freshman Felix Von Hofe -- combined for 11 3-pointers for Eastern. Martin Seiferth added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Harvey and Kelly combined to make 6-of-6 free throws in the final 36 seconds to clinch the win. Harvey, filling in for injured Drew Brandon at point guard, finished with 22 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to finish with his first career double-double. He also tied his career highs with eight assists and four steals. Kelly added 16 points, seven rebounds to equal a career high, and three assists, and Venky Jois chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, and neared career highs with six assists and six blocked shots. Also providing a boost was Von Hofe, who played 16 minutes off the bench. He hit a trio of 3-pointers and scored 11 points, eight in the first half. Eastern lost the rebounding battle 43-41 and had twice as many turnovers as ISU (16 to eight). But EWU out-shot the Bengals 47 percent to 34 percent and had six more 3-point baskets.
Quoting Coach Hayford
On ISU Win: “That was a great home win. We defended our home court against a veteran Idaho State team that gave it all they had. Our game plan was solid and our guys executed it. Our veterans stepped up. This is a really solid team win, and I am really proud of our team. We advanced our program. We had a great first half. Credit Idaho State because at halftime they came out knowing their season was on the line. We took their best punches.”
On Status of Drew Brandon: “He is limited, but he has great heart. It kills him not to play. I am glad he could get on the court. Let’s just hope he gets a lot better and (we earn) another win so we are in the Big Sky Tournament. That would be enough time, two weeks from the injury, that he can be back to being Drew.”
On Tyler Harvey’s Record-Breaking Performance at UNC: “It’s becoming routine for Tyler -- a 31-point game and 7-of-11 from three. He is becoming a very, very special player.”
On UNC Win: “This is a great win and they were undefeated in home until we beat them. Our team showed great character to come back and play this way after Monday’s loss (at home to Portland State). This was our third game in five days. I’m just really proud of our team – we showed great character and great togetherness. We executed really well. 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.”
On PSU Loss: “I credit our opponent for a well-played game, and make no excuses. We looked tired. I don’t know if that had to do with getting back from Utah after a Saturday night game with a Monday game turnaround. We are young and strong, and we need to be better for that. We didn’t handle that well. I credit them, and I wish we were a little bit fresher tonight. We went inside and our two starting bigs had a great night. We need to find ways to get them the ball more. We did get Venky 15 shots. In both games their athleticism bothered us. The turnover differential in both games speaks about their athleticism, and they had great guard play in both games. I give them credit.”
On Southern Utah Win: “We showed offensive patience and good execution. For us to shoot only six threes in each half shows we are maturing. We had great shots on our possessions and it resulted in a really good win. Venky obviously had an outstanding night. We thought we had an advantage at his position (four). And with Martin Seiferth being in foul trouble, Venky gave us a quickness advantage on some of their fives. He had a really good night.”
On Exceeding Win Totals of Last Season: “Our whole goal this year was to move this program forward. Our total wins are higher, our home wins are higher and our conference wins are higher. It just indicates that we are moving in the right direction. There is an asterisk next to all of this because we don’t have any seniors. We will keep growing as a team, and as each individual keeps committing to a consistency in their performance, I think we have the program headed in the right direction.”
On Honors Won Feb. 17 by Drew Brandon & Tyler Harvey: “Drew is playing complete games. He’s a defender, a rebounder, he runs our offense and he takes care of the ball. He is coming into his own. Tyler is being recognized for his great individual play that is leading to team success. I am very happy for him. He works hard and deserves the honor.”
On 3-Point Shooting: “We recruit to shoot. If players are three-point shooters, they want to come here. We let it fly and we are among the nation’s leaders in that. What we need to recognize is when they take away the three we need to balance that with attacking the rim. I think our guys are starting to find that balance. If they are going to let us shoot it, we’ll shoot it because we have some guys who are really good shooters.”
Other Season Notes
* Eastern is tied with Maine and Nicholls State for the most foreign players in NCAA Division I with seven (3 from Australia, 3 from Germany, 1 from Serbia).
* A year ago, mainly because of injuries, Eastern used 14 different starting lineups. Thus far, Eastern has used four.
* Eastern will be trying for its third Big Sky Conference Tournament berth in the last four years in 2013-14, and its 13th in 27 years as a member of the league. Eastern has 12 previous appearances (1990, 98, 99, 2000, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 11, 12).
* The Big Sky Conference Tournament will take place March 13-15 at the site of regular season champion Weber State. For the second-straight year, it will now include seven teams, with the Wildcats receiving a first-round bye. The tournament will include a quarterfinal round with six of the teams playing (#2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6, #4 vs. #5), followed by semifinals and the championship game.
EWU vs. Weber State Series Notes
* Earlier this season, sophomore Tyler Harvey got off to a hot start in Big Sky Conference play with 30 points, but so did Weber State in a 74-67 victory over the Eagles on Jan. 2. The Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but foul trouble in the first half helped Weber State make eight of its last nine shots of the half to lead 37-33 at intermission. The Wildcats had a similar outburst early in the second half, making 8-of-10 shots during a stretch in which they opened an 11-point lead. EWU came within three late in the game, but Weber State closed out the victory by making 4-of-5 free throws in the final 48 seconds while EWU missed its last three shots. Weber State made 48 percent of its shots in the game compared to 45 percent for the Eagles, but 11 Wildcat offensive rebounds led to an 18-7 advantage in second chance points. Harvey scored 21 of his points in the first half and finished 10-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Sophomore Venky Jois scored all 15 of his points in the second half, and point guard Drew Brandon chipped in eight points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.
* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 20-43 against Weber State (20-44 all-time). The Eagles are 14-15 in Cheney, 4-28 in Ogden and 2-0 on neutral courts versus the Wildcats since 1983-84. The only other game in the series was an 83-65 loss in Ogden on Dec. 14, 1978, making EWU 4-28 in Ogden all-time.
* Weber State has won the last six meetings and 11 of the last 12. Until winning 75-59 in Ogden on March 2, 2011, the Eagles had lost the previous five meetings. The Eagles have won 14 of the last 39 meetings after losing nine-straight from 1992-1996.
* Eastern has defeated the Wildcats three times in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament (72-53 in 2004, 62-57 in 2002 and 83-67 in 1990). Besides the 2011 victory, Eastern’s lone victories in Ogden came in 2006 (76-73), 2001 (81-70) and 2000 (90-78). In 2000, Eastern snapped the Wildcats' 30-game home winning streak, which at the time was the fourth longest in NCAA Division I.