Cheney Free Press -

Eagles put three-game winning streak on line at MSU

The second-half of league play begins against two teams EWU defeated at home earlier this season

 

Last updated 2/8/2019 at 12:21am

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington's Tyler Kidd splits the Northern Arizona defense in the Eagles 82-64 win over the visiting Lumberjacks last Monday, Feb. 4.

The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team is looking for a little more road magic to go along with its sudden gold rush of victories.

Eastern tries to maintain – if not improve – upon its fourth-place position in the Big Sky Conference standings when the Eagles travel to Montana State (Feb. 7) and Montana (Feb. 9) as the second half of the league schedule begins. Both games begin at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time.

All Eastern games are carried live via radio on 700-AM ESPN and 105.3-FM in the Spokane/Cheney area, with Larry Weir calling the play-by-play. Broadcasts begin a half-hour prior to tipoff. Fans can also watch the webcast of all league games via PlutoTV and at watchbigsky.com.

In the midst of a stretch of four games in eight days, earlier this season Eastern hosted Montana and Montana State in back-to-back games - but those came nine days apart. Eastern is 7-3 at home this season with a five-game winning streak at Reese Court, including impressive victories over the Grizzlies (78-71 on Jan. 10) and Bobcats (85-81 on Jan. 19). In those consecutive games the Eagles had season-best shooting percentages, including what is still a high-water mark for EWU of 57.9 percent versus the Bobcats.

Eastern is now 8-0 this season when it makes at least 45 percent of its shots from the field (1-0 at 50 percent or better) and 0-13 when it doesn't. Eastern has also out-rebounded its last five opponents after having advantages in just two of its first 16 games.

Eastern has won its last three overall and five of its last six, and picked up its first road win in 11 tries this season on Jan. 26 when it won at Sacramento State in overtime (94-92). While EWU is 6-4 in league play, Montana State is right behind at 6-5 and Montana leads the way at 8-2.

"We have to continue to play great basketball," Eastern head coach Shantay Legans said. "I'm hoping we have all of that and are ready to go. We can put it all together and go on a little streak here, but we have to go game-by-game and Montana State is the next one."

Hall now has 2,297 career points for a team which leads the Big Sky with an average of 9.1 3-pointers in league play. Montana State picked up a huge road win by beating Northern Colorado 69-66, allowing EWU to creep within 1 1/2 games from second (UNC and Weber State at 8-3).

"They are a good basketball club," Legans said of the Bobcats. "They came in and played great here, and we did a good job on some of their main guys. We had to watch Tyler Hall break Bogdan's scoring record. Now we have to go there and they'll be revved up to beat us because we won the first time. It's always a good game the second time around. Like us, they'll come up with a game plan and try to stop some things."

Staying at the top of the league standings is important because the top five teams in the league gain a first-round bye in the Big Sky Conference Tournament March 13-16 in Boise, Idaho.

Led by Big Sky Conference Player of the Week Jacob Davison and a trio of double-doubles by three different players, Eastern knocked off Southern Utah (82-79) and Northern Arizona (82-64) last week. And they did that without the services of Mason Peatling, who missed 10 games earlier this season when EWU was 1-9 without him.

Peatling has been EWU's leading scorer in five of nine games he's played (record of 5-4), and has also led in rebounds four times. An honorable mention All-Big Sky selection a year ago, Peatling is averaging 15.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks overall. He's shooting at a 58.6 percent clip, making 7-of-13 3-point attempts (53.8 percent) and 20-of-30 free throws (66.7 percent).

Redshirt freshman Kim Aiken Jr. helped make up for the absence of Peatling by having a monster game with 24 points, 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and a pair of steals in the win over Southern Utah, then had nine rebounds, two points and two blocks versus NAU.

Another redshirt freshman, Tanner Groves, started both games in place of Peatling and had his first career double-double with career highs of 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots versus NAU.

 

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