Cheney Free Press -

Bye up for grabs for Eagles men on the road


Last updated 3/7/2019 at 9:02pm

The next two games will solve the puzzle.

With a bye still well within reach for the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team, the Eagles play their final two regular season games on the road this week on today at Idaho State, and Saturday at Weber State.

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 on March 13-16 in Boise, Idaho.

Entering the final week of regular season action, fourth-place Eastern could finish as high as third with a sweep and a Montana State loss, or, could finish as low as sixth if the Eagles were swept and PSU and Sac State register sweeps. Eastern can lock-up a bye with a split and a Portland State loss, plus a couple of other combinations if the victory is over Weber State. The Eagles have tiebreakers advantages over Montana State, Weber State and Southern Utah.

The Eagles face an Idaho State team which is coming off a 78-74 victory at home over Weber State on Monday (March 4). The Bengals are now 6-12 in the Big Sky and 10-17 overall, while Weber State is now 10-8 in the league and 16-13 on the season. The Wildcats have lost seven of their last 10 after a 7-1 start to league play, and host Idaho on Thursday prior to hosting the Eagles. Earlier this season, the Eagles fell at home to Weber State 84-72 on Dec. 29 before rebounding for a 65-55 victory over ISU two days later.

“We just have to go out and play as hard as we can,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans. “We need to bring energy. We’re going on a road trip where the fans will be cheering against us. If we bring energy like we did against NAU or Sac State, I think the outcome will be in our favor. We just have to make sure we have that energy and that we have each other’s back.”

At 10-8 in the league and 12-17 on the season, Eastern has won nine of its last 14 games in league play, and is 11-8 since starting the season 1-9. Eastern finished 10-4 at Reese Court where the Eagles had a seven-game winning streak come to an end with a 59-56 setback to Sacramento State on Feb. 28. But EWU fought back for a 68-66 win in a battle for fifth-place with Portland State, winning the game on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Kim Aiken Jr. on a drive and pass by sophomore Jack Perry.

Eastern is 2-13 on opponent home courts, and had an 86-73 romp at Northern Arizona in their last outing on Feb. 23. Eastern has defeated both Montana and Northern Colorado this season, and one of those two teams will win the regular season title and the No. 1 seed. Eastern also fell to Idaho, which is just 2-16 in the league.

“We can win or lose to anybody,” said Legans. “We beat the first-place team in the league and we lost to the last-place team in the league. We have to make sure we’re playing good basketball and we are playing with confidence in our last two games.”


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