Eastern Washington (5-4) at Seton Hall (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 22, 5 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Prudential Center (18,711) -- Newark, New Jersey. Television: FS1. Home Record: EWU 3-1, Seton Hall 5-2. Away Record: EWU 0-3, Seton Hall 1-1. Neutral Record: EWU 2-0, Seton Hall 1-1. Conference Record: EWU 0-0, Seton Hall 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Seton Hall Pirates will continue their four-game homestand on Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Eastern Washington Eagles to the Prudential Center.
EWU has started the season a solid 5-4, but it has been trending in the wrong direction in recent weeks with losses in three of its last four. The Eagles most recently dropped a 70-61 home matchup with UC Irvine on Dec. 15, and now they head back out on the road where they have gone 0-3.
Seton Hall is also coming off a loss, as it fell on the wrong end of a 83-80 overtime bout versus Saint Peter's on Dec. 14. The setback snapped a three- game winning streak for the Pirates, who are 7-4 on the season, including 5-2 at home.
This contest marks the first-ever meeting between the Eagles and the Pirates in men's basketball.
Although EWU led at the half of its latest game, it fell victim to a 14-3 UCI run at the start of the second stanza and could never fully recover. It was a lackluster shooting effort for the home team, as it made good on just 33.3 percent of its field goal tries and struggled from the free-throw line as well (10-of-19). Tyler Harvey finished with a game-high 15 points, but he did so on just 4-of-15 from the floor. Parker Kelly added 13 points, Drew Brandon stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Ognjen Miljkovic came off the bench to score 12 points.
It was a rare performance for the Eagles, who shoot nearly 47 percent from the field this season (with 8.2 3-pointers per contest) on their way to 77.4 points per game, 5.1 points more than they allow. Harvey (19.7 ppg) is one of the Big Sky Conference's most potent scorers, and he ranks in the top-30 nationally in 3-pointers (33) despite his team playing just nine games. Venky Jois (13.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.4 rpg) is a force in the paint, and Brandon brings 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
Trailing by three points in the waning seconds of regulation, Seton Hall received a dramatic 3-pointer from Brian Oliver to force overtime, but in the extra session it fell on the opposite end of that fate, as Desi Washington delivered a game-winning bucket from long range for Saint Peter's with five seconds to play. Oliver was outstanding in spite of the setback, scoring 26 points on 8-of-15 from the field (including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc) to go with 10 rebounds. Eugene Teague also tallied a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Brandon Mobley just missed one with nine points and nine boards, and Sterling Gibbs came off the bench to net 17 points on 9-of-9 from the free-throw line.
The Pirates have displayed solid offensive production all season, as they score 76.7 points per game by making 7.7 3-pointers and 22.1 free throws per game. Even though he shoots less than 40 percent from the field, Gibbs (16.1 ppg) ranks second in the nation with 95 made free throws (on 84.8 percent efficiency). Oliver (11.4 ppg) adds to the scoring efficiency. With Fuquan Edwin (13.8 ppg) and Patrik Auda (12.0 ppg) both missing from action recently, Teague (9.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Mobley (9.1 ppg) have been asked to step up their production.
Seton Hall showed with a shorthanded squad in its latest game that it is vulnerable, even on its home floor, but with EWU struggling on the road and having to travel across the country for this matchup, expect the Pirates to get back on the winning track.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seton Hall 82, Eastern Washington 73
12/22 10:37:18 ET