Eastern Washington (5-2) at Saint Mary's-CA (6-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 8, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKeon Pavilion (3,500) -- Moraga, California. Television: None. Home Record: EWU 3-0, SMC 6-0. Away Record: EWU 0-2, SMC 0-0. Neutral Record: EWU 2-0, SMC 0-0. Conference Record: EWU 0-0, SMC 0-0. Series Record: Saint Mary's leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: The Gaels of Saint Mary's close out a lengthy seven-game homestand, as they entertain the Eagles of Eastern Washington in non- conference action at McKeon Pavilion.
Saint Mary's, which will challenge Boise State next Saturday in the first road date of the season, is undefeated to this point. The team has won all but one game by double digits, a 67-63 triumph over Drake back on Nov. 16. More recently, SMC took down Murray State last Saturday by a score of 89-64.
As for the Eagles, they are still searching for their first true road win of 2013-14. The squad does have a couple of neutral-site victories over Boston University and LIU Brooklyn, but on an opponent's home floor they've come up empty in two previous tries. Last week, the team entertained Seattle and came up with an 82-75 win, the fourth in the last five outings overall for the program.
The Gaels lead the all-time series by a count of 5-2, posting an 85-66 victory in the most recent clash last season in Moraga.
The Eagles used just two players off the bench against Seattle, but that was more than enough as EWU came away with the seven-point victory. Tyler Harvey erupted for a game-high 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor, including 6-of-9 behind the 3-point line, followed by Venky Jois with a double-double consisting of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Drew Brandon contributed 12 points and seven assists, while Ognjen Miljkovic pitched in 10 points in 17 minutes as a reserve.
Off to their best start since 2008-09, the Eagles are paced by Harvey in the scoring department with his 20.3 ppg, as he shoots not only 51.1 percent from the field, but also a sensational 50.9 percent (28-of-55) beyond the arc. Jois (15.6 ppg) and Brandon (11.3 ppg) handle a lot of the action on the inside with a combined 15.1 rpg, but the latter is also the leader in assists with 45, more than twice as many as his closest teammate.
The Gaels blitzed Murray State in the first half of their meeting, not only shooting 51.6 percent from the floor, but also connecting on all but one of 12 opportunities at the free-throw line in order to cruise to the 25-point win. Brad Waldow hit 8-of-9 from the field as he tallied 18 points, followed by James Walker and Stephen Holt with 16 points apiece. Coming off the bench, Kerry Carter converted 3-of-6 shots beyond the arc as he contributed 10 points for the hosts.
Outscoring the competition by more than 15 ppg through the first six outings, the Gaels feature four double-digit scorers with Waldow heading the list with his 17.7 ppg. Shooting almost as well from the field (.677) as he is at the free-throw line (.688), Waldow is also tops on the glass with seven per game. Holt (12.8 ppg), Walker (11.5 ppg) and Beau Levesque (10.3 ppg) help to shoulder the offensive load as well.
Despite enjoying their best start in several years, the Eagles are not a team that has the talent to take down SMC at this point. Granted, the Gaels haven't exactly filled their schedule with top-flight opponents, but that has little to do with how they will dominate here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 82, Eastern Washington 67
12/08 10:52:20 ET