Harvey saves Eastern once again
Ties school record for 3-point shots, points as Eagles salvage Big Sky split
Eastern Washington's Venky Jois defends against a Northern Colorado player last Saturday in the Eagles' 94-90 Big Sky Conference overtime win. While held to just six points, Jois had three blocked shots. Tyler Harvey's 38 points and a record-tieing 10 3-point shots were tops for Eastern.
The Eastern Washington men's basketball team came dangerously close to shooting themselves in both feet when it came to their Big Sky Conference playoff future this past weekend.
But sophomore Tyler Harvey came to the rescue - again.
Harvey, who scored just seven points in a 73-61 loss last Thursday to the University of North Dakota – a game where he shot just 3-of-18 from the field and 1-of-8 from 3-point range – turned it on, and around Saturday in the Eagles' 94-90 overtime win over Northern Colorado, scoring 38 points and a school-record 10 3-pointers versus the Bears.
The Reese Court split left Eastern with a 4-6 conference mark (9-12 overall) going into this weekend's rugged road trip for games at Montana State (5-5, 10-11) Thursday, Feb. 6 and Saturday in Missoula versus Montana (5-5, 10-9) as the Eagles seek their first win on the road this year in nine tries.
Northern Colorado started their week atop the conference with a 7-1 record but left the Northwest in second place with two straight losses, including an 80-57 clubbing at Portland State last Thursday.
Just four games separate the league's top 10 teams as the season moves into the second half of the schedule.
Harvey launched a 3 from the left side of the arc with just 59 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game. After Eastern survived a missed 3 from Northern Colorado's leading scorer, Unruh Tate with 2 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime, Harvey put the Eagles into a lead they would never lose in the five-minute extra session with another 3. His pair of free throws, and another couple from Parker Kelly inside the final 30 seconds sealed it.
"To go 10-of-15 after going 1-of-8 on Thursday night shows that Tyler doesn't lack any confidence," EWU head coach Jim Hayford said. "He believes in his game, and he believes in his teammates."
Harvey tied the record of 10 3s by Kevin Winford against New Hope College, set Dec. 4, 2010, and his 38 points equaled current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey for the sixth-most in school history.
Eastern led the game by as many as 14 points in the second half on one of Harvey's 3-pointers with 11 minutes, 59 seconds remaining. But an 8-0 run got the Bears back in the game, and eventually they took a pair of three-point leads, the final time on Jordan Wilson's 3-point bomb with 1:15 to go.
After Harvey launched his 3 to open overtime, Venky Jois got inside to deliver a resounding jam that put Eastern up 86-81. That was the start of an 8-2 run that included four straight points from Brandon Drew that kept it a two possession game until Tate's 3 got the Bears to within 90-88 with 50 seconds to go.
The Harvey and Kelly free throws pushed it back to a six-point game, 94-88 before a Tim Huskisson basket with 5 seconds to play concluded the scoring.
Along with Harvey's return to form, Kelly – who put up just eight points versus North Dakota – also had a solid evening versus UNC with 17 coming off the bench.
"I joked with Parker after the game and told him, 'well that solves our bench production if we take you off the bench and you play like that," Hayford said.
Drew had a double-double, his second in the homestand, with 15 points and 12 assists.
"There was a lot of pressure on Drew, particularly down the stretch in the second half," Hayford said.
Martin Seiferth also came off the bench with 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Seiferth's blocked shots gave him 98 in just two years at Eastern, and three more from Jois, who now has 97, helped the pair climb within easy range of surpassing career leader Paul Butorac's 99, set between 2004-07.
Eastern made 54.4 percent of its shots – its best shooting performance since Nov. 22 and a season-best 55.2 percent of 3-point shots at 16-of-29.
The Bears jumped out to an early 18-6 lead as Eastern made only two of its first 10 shots. The Eagles managed to pull within three, then used an 11-0 run to take a 35-28 advantage and led 37-33 at the half.
Thursday versus UND, Eastern led 45-44 with 12:30 to play but a 19-4 run by the visitors from Grand Forks allowed them to pull away for the victory.
Jois led the Eagles with 15 points and freshman Ognjen Miljkovic added 14. Brandon had 11 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double. Eastern, which shot 52 percent in the first half, but trailed 37-31 at the half, ultimately made only 37.7 percent of their shots from the field.
"Tonight was a game where North Dakota was the better team," Hayford said. "They wrestled the lead from us in the first half, and they came out and won the first 8-10 minutes in the second half."
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.