February 13, 2014 | Vol. 117 -- No. 43

Eastern men hope to break up log-jam in Big Sky standings

With a check on their to-do list following claiming their first road win of the season, the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team return home hoping add to their 7-2 home record (4-1 Big Sky) and separate themselves from the Big Sky’s middle-of the-road.

Eastern (5-7 Big Sky, 10-13 overall) hosts Sacramento State (5-6, 9-11) Thursday, Feb. 13 at 6:05 p.m. and Northern Arizona (7-5, 10-13) Saturday at 2:05 p.m., both at Reese Court. Earlier this season, the Eagles lost on the road to NAU (84-65) and Sac State (75-64).

The Eagles returned from Montana with a split in their games, winning big in Bozeman 79-50 before seeing a late rally fall short in an 82-77 loss at Montana, Saturday. Eastern rallied from a 61-48 deficit with 8:31 to play, but Montana made just enough free throws in the final two minutes to knock off the Eagles.

The bottom line is that Eastern comes into their games this week in ninth place, but just two games separate second place Northern Colorado (7-5) and 10th place Idaho State (5-7).

“We need to go defend our home court and get our record to 7-7,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said. “We’ll see where the dust lays after that – this league is crazy right now.”

At chilly Bozeman last Thursday, Big Sky scoring leader Tyler Harvey had 19 points, and career highs of eight assists and four steals to lead Eastern’s all-around team effort. Venky Jois had 15 points while Martin Seiferth came off the bench to finish with 12 points and nine boards. Parker Kelly also came off the bench adding 11 points.

“Somebody asked what happiness is, and tonight happiness is a road win,” Hayford said.

After leading 36-20 at intermission, Kelly hit a pair of 3-pointers in an 8-2 run to start the second half and open a 22-point lead over the Bobcats (6-8, 11-12). The Eagles took their biggest lead of the game at 29 with 1:01 left on a 3-pointer from Felix Von Hofe.

Montana led from start to finish, largely on the effort of Kareem Jamar’s 23 points.

Harvey led the Eagles with 24 points while point guard Drew Brandon had a career-high 19 points. Martin Seiferth scored nine of his points in the first half and finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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