Cheney Free Press 

Eastern, WSU face off in NIT first round

Post-season hoops get underway


Last updated 3/16/2023 at 12:45pm

Bridget Mayfield | Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington's Cedric Coward shoots a free throw versus WSU at Spokane Arena on Nov. 21, 2022.

CHENEY - Eastern Washington earned a notable consolation prize in the 2023 post season following their 81-80 upset loss to Northern Arizona in the Big Sky Conference tournament, March 5 in Boise.

As regular-season Big Sky champions the Eagles were guaranteed a berth in the 32-team National Invitational Tournament and were to face a familiar opponent, the Washington State Cougars on March 14 in Pullman.

It will be a rematch opportunity for the Eagles as they faced the Cougars early this season, with WSU pulling away for an 82-56 win at Spokane Arena on Nov. 21.

That game was part of a 1-4 start for Eastern which would later put together an 18-game winning streak, finish 16-2 in conference play and 22-10 overall.

Eastern lost its final two Big Sky Conference games and their tournament opener.

WSU finished tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with a 17-16 overall record (11-9 conference) winning 10 of 13 games at home. They lost in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament to Oregon.

Eastern's path to the NIT semifinals and championship in Las Vegas would include a second-round matchup against the winner of Oklahoma State and Youngstown State.

They would then face one of Alcorn State, North Texas, Sam Houston State or Santa Clara.

The tournament semifinals at Orleans Arena are scheduled for March 28 with the Championship on March 30.

It will be the second time EWU has competed in the NIT, with the first coming back in 2003. Eastern played Wyoming that year, losing 71-78.

The game was delayed two days due to a massive snowstorm that stranded the team in Denver on their way to Laramie, Wyo.

At one point, players and staff had to help push their chartered bus out of a snow drift.

This year also marks the 10th overall postseason appearance in EWU program history and sixth in the last seven seasons, not including the canceled 2020 finish.


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