Eastern Washington (4-13) at Northern Colorado (4-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Butler-Hancock Pavilion (2,992) -- Greeley, Colorado. Television: None. Home Record: EWU 3-4. Northern Colorado 3-3. Away Record: EWU 0-8, Northern Colorado 1-8. Neutral Record: EWU 1-1, Northern Colorado 0-0. Conference Record: EWU 2-5, Northern Colorado 2-5. Series Record: Northern Colorado leads, 6-5.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams tied at the bottom of the Big Sky Conference standings will try to get some separation when the Eastern Washington Eagles visit the Northern Colorado Bears at Butler-Hancock Pavilion on Saturday night.
At 2-5 in league play Eastern Washington is in a three-way tie for last place in the Big Sky with Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona. The Eagles were downed 65-47 by North Dakota to kick off their current three-game road trip. The loss was the fourth in the last five games for the Eagles who are a dismal 4-13 overall on the campaign. In the final game of the road trip the Eagles face Southern Utah before playing three straight at home.
Northern Colorado had been in sole possession of last place in the conference before putting an end to a five-game losing streak on Thursday with a 67-50 victory over Portland State. The Bears have struggled all season with a mark of just 4-11 overall, while splitting their six games at home. Next up for Northern Colorado is a two-game road trip that begins against Northern Arizona on Thursday.
Last season Eastern Washington ended a five-game losing streak to Northern Colorado with a 79-76 victory at home. The win gave the Eagles a split of the season series with the Bears.
It was a tale of two halves for Eastern Washington in its loss to North Dakota on Thursday. The Eagles led 29-27 at the break after holding the Fighting Sioux to just 28.1 percent shooting in the first half. The Eagles fell apart in the second half by hitting just 25 percent of their shots, including a dismal 1-of-15 effort from 3-point range.
The Eagles' struggles on defense have been their downfall this season. Eastern Washington is letting up 76.2 points per game on the season on 44.8 percent shooting. One of the biggest weaknesses of the Eagles is there ability to keep teams from moving the ball as they have let up 16.9 assists per game this season, which is among the 10 worst marks in the country. On the offensive side of the ball the Eagles have shot the second lowest percentage in the conference (.399) while putting up 68.5 points per game. Hurting the Eagles even more was the loss of leading scorer Justin Crosgile (14.7 pp, 5.5 apg) who left the team for personal reasons in early January. Venky Jois (13.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg) is now the lead scorer, while leading the conference in rebounding. Colin Chiverton (10.1 pg) has averaged in double figures but has scored three points or fewer in three of the last four games.
In its win over Portland State, Northern Colorado put together a strong performance on the offensive end. The Bears hit 47.2 percent of their shots from the field, including a 10-of-17 showing from beyond the arc.
Offensively speaking, Northern Colorado is right near the middle of the pack in the Big Sky scoring 68.5 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting. A trio of players is scoring in double figures led by Tate Unruh (12.4 ppg). The 6- foot-4 guard has elevated his play recently scoring at least 15 points in four of the last five games including a game-high 19 points against Portland State. Derrick Barden (11.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg) anchors the team in the frontcourt, while Tevin Svihovec (10.5 ppg) runs in the backcourt with Unruh.
The loss of Crosgile has clearly hampered what was already a dismal season for Eastern Washington. With Unruh heating up, the Eagles won't have enough offensive firepower to knock off the Bears.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 71, Eastern Washington 62
01/19 10:32:15 ET