Sports Briefs

 


MEN’S BASKETBALL

Eagle men close out regular season at home with Senior Night Saturday

Seeking to maintain its position to receive a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Sky Conference Tournament, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team returns home to play its final two games of the regular season against Southern Utah on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. and Saturday vs. Northern Arizona at 2:05 p.m.

Riding a four-game winning streak, the Eagles play a pair of teams they split with on the road earlier this season. Eastern beat NAU in Flagstaff 81-76 on Jan. 18, then lost two days later 66-62 in overtime at Cedar City.

The Thunderbirds held EWU to its second-lowest point total in conference play this season and third fewest overall.

“This week can really lead us into the tournament with momentum,” Eastern head coach Shantay Legans said. “If we can defend our home court, we can be going into the Big Sky Conference Tournament on a six-game winning streak.

The Lumberjack game is Senior Day at EWU, and the Eagles will honor Bogdan Bliznyuk, Sir Washington and Benas Griciunas in pre-game ceremonies. Bliznyuk has earned the last two Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors and four on the season.


Eastern completed last week with a 74-69 victory at Idaho State, led by Bliznyuk with 17 points. Prior to that, the Eagles registered a 75-70 victory at Weber State to snap a nine-game winning streak for the Wildcats.

Bliznyuk, Eastern’s all-time leading scorer, now has 2,013 points in his career to become only the fifth player in the 55-year history of the league to hit the 2,000-point mark. The record currently is at 2,102, with at least three games left to play for the Big Sky Player of the Year candidate. He didn’t shoot any free throws versus ISU, so his streak of 65 straight, just eight from the NCAA single season record, remains intact heading into Thursday’s game.

The Eagles are 16-13 on the season and 11-5 in the Big Sky, and have won 13 of their last 18 games after a 3-8 start. Southern Utah is 11-16 overall, 4-11 in the conference. The Lumberjacks are 5-24 this year with a record of 2-14 in the conference.

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Bliznyuk nets yet another Big Sky player award

As the mileposts pass, the milestones keep piling up for Bogdan Bliznyuk. The senior hit big late-game shots in a road sweep last week for the Eagles – and, by the way, went over the 2,000-point mark in his career – as he won his second-straight Big Sky Conference Ready Nutrition Player of the Week honor on Feb. 26.


Bliznyuk has now been honored four times by the league this season and six times in his career. He averaged 22.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game in victories over Weber State and Idaho State. He sank 19-of-35 shots in the two games and made both of his free throws, and also was 4-of-8 from the 3-point arc.

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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Eastern women wrap up Big Sky Conference play on road

The final two games of the regular season have arrived for the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team. The squad will take their two-game winning streak to Southern Utah (Feb. 28) and Northern Arizona (March 2) before heading to Reno, Nev., for the Big Sky Conference Tournament on March 5-10.

Eastern looks to go for the season sweep over both squads as they topped them back in January at home.

The Eagles are 15-13 overall and 10-6 in Big Sky play. With two regular season games remaining, they sit in a four-way tie for third place with Weber State, Idaho State and Portland State. EWU would take the tiebreakers and would be a No. 3 seed if the season ended today. The top four teams receive a first-round bye.

Eastern is coming off of another 2-0 home stand with wins over Weber State and Idaho State. Against Weber State, the Eagles led for over 39 minutes and pulled down 53 boards in the 77-68 victory. Delaney Hodgins scored 30 points while Violet Kapri Morrow added 23. During the victory, Hodgins became the first person in EWU basketball history, male or female, to eclipse the 2,000-point mark and just the fourth in BSC history.

The Eagles rallied from a 60-44 deficit with 7 minutes, 37 seconds remaining outscoring Idaho State 22-4 in the fourth quarter to pick up a crucial victory over the Bengals, 66-44.

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FOOTBALL

Anfernee Gurley Wins Pair of EWU Player of the Year Awards

True freshman Anfernee Gurley won a pair of awards as Eastern Washington University football players of the year were announced and honored Feb. 25 at the annual EWU Awards Presentation at Showalter Auditorium.

A 2017 graduate of Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett, Wash., Gurley was selected as EWU’s Freshman of the Year and was the Special Teams Player of the Year. All-Big Sky junior safety Mitch Fettig earned player of the year honors on defense and sophomore All-Big Sky running back Antoine Custer Jr. won on offense.

A new award, the Golden EKG (Eastern Kind of Guy) was presented to junior center Spencer Blackburn. Blackburn was a second team All-Big Sky selection for the second year in a row in 2017.

In addition, receiving Scout Team Players of the Year were defensive lineman Mitchell Johnson, wide receiver Andrew Boston and quarterback Gunner Talkington, and the recipient for special teams was Marques Hampton Jr.

Senior defensive end Marcus Saugen was given the Pat Roberts Memorial Award for achieving academic and athletic excellence.

Receiving team captains awards from the 2017 season were senior defensive tackle Andre Lino, senior defensive end Albert Havili, senior wide receiver Nic Sblendorio and junior quarterback Gage Gubrud.

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