EWU Men Hit The Road Following Home Sweep - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

EWU Men Hit The Road Following Home Sweep

Martin Seiferth will look to replicate the monster game he had in the Eagles most recent homestand. Martin Seiferth will look to replicate the monster game he had in the Eagles most recent homestand.
Upcoming Games

Thursday, Jan. 16 - Walkup Skydome (10,000) - Flagstaff, Ariz., 5:35 p.m. PT - Eastern Washington (7-8, 2-2) at Northern Arizona (6-9, 2-1)

Saturday, Jan. 18 - Hornets Nest (1,200) - Sacramento, Calif., 7:05 p.m. PT - Eastern Washington at Sacramento State (5-8, 1-3 entering 1/16 home game versus Portland State)

by EWU Athletics

The way to make Jim Hayford an even prouder head coach is for his Eagles to register a Big Sky Conference road breakthrough.

Fresh off a hard-earned home sweep, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team gets its chance this week when EWU plays at Northern Arizona Thursday, Jan. 16, at 5:35 p.m. Pacific time, followed by a Saturday, Jan. 18, game at Sacramento State at 7:05 p.m. Pacific time.

The games will be carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com, and the NAU game will be carried on Fox Sports Arizona PLUS. Eastern seeks its first victory on an opponent home court this season (0-7 thus far), and last year knocked off the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff 77-74 in overtime in the break-out game for EWU high-scoring guard Tyler Harvey.

The Eagles are 2-2 in the Big Sky and 7-8 overall after registering a home sweep of Montana (69-62) and Montana State (77-72) last weekend. Northern Arizona jumped out to a 24-2 lead at Southern Utah Monday (Jan. 13) en route to a 70-36 romp to improve its records to 3-1 in the league record and 6-9 overall. Sac State is 1-3 in the league and 5-8 overall heading into Thursday’s home game versus Portland State.

“It’s a full slate, but that’s how it’s going to be in the Big Sky every game,” said Hayford. “That’s the fun of it, and when you hunt out a road win, you gain double on the rest of the pack. That’s what we are after.”

The Eagles trailed by 13 with less than four minutes remaining in last year’s game at NAU, but Harvey scored 14 points in the last 8:31 of the game and rallied the Eagles to an improbable win. That victory was Eastern’s first in 13 tries on opponent home courts to that point.

“Necessity is the mother of invention, and we were at that place in last year’s game at NAU,” explained Hayford. “We had gone through injuries and losing a point guard – all sorts of adversity – up to that point of the season. We played really well the game before at Sacramento State and lost a close one there, but then things weren’t going right at NAU. And so it was Tyler’s turn.

“Tyler energized us and we had a miraculous comeback,” he continued. “Everything kind of went right for us and wrong for NAU, and we won in overtime. And a star was born.”

Now a sophomore, Harvey had 44 points with nine 3-pointers and six assists in last week’s sweep to earn College Sports Madness Big Sky Conference Player of the Week accolades. He ranks second in the Big Sky in scoring for all games (20.3) and is ranked first in league games only (23.3).

“For us as coaches and for Tyler, it will be fun to be in that locker room again because that was the springboard to where he is right now,” added Hayford. “The neat thing is he’s only a sophomore. That was a real pivotal turning point in our development as a program during a year we were playing five or even six freshmen. It’s great to go back to the scene of the crime.”

Big Sky Conference co-Player of the Week Venky Jois finished last weekend with 28 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, four blocked shots and three steals, while making 56.3 percent of his field goals (9-of-16) and 62.5 percent of his free throws (10-of-16). Against MSU he had his fifth double-double of the season and 14th of his career, and came three rebounds short of another double-double against UM.

The Eagles trailed only once against Montana, and rallied from 11 points down in the second half in the win over Montana State. That weekend performance helped regain confidence for a team which had lost six games in a row and hadn’t won since Nov. 29.

Hayford said even with things were darkest for his team versus the Bobcats – who out-scored EWU at one point 40-13 to overcome a 16-point Eagle advantage in the first half – the Eagles had a belief they could still win. And he hopes that carries over into this week’s action on the road.

“Each timeout we kept saying, ‘Hey guys, let’s make defensive stops and let’s stay together. There is a lot of time,’” Hayford explained. “It was the same thing we were telling them when we were up with a big lead, ‘let’s keep making stops and let’s keep believing.’”

“Again, I am very, very proud of my team and their heart,” he said after the game.