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CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
Eastern Washington (10-20) at Weber State (23-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Events Center (11,500) -- Ogden, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: EWU 7-7, Weber State 13-1. Away Record: EWU 2-12, Weber State 10-4. Neutral Record: EWU 1-1, Weber State 0-0. Conference Record: EWU 7-12, Weber State 17-2. Series Record: Weber State leads, 42-20.
GAMES NOTES: The Weber State Wildcats still have a shot at the Big Sky Conference regular season crown as they go into the regular-season finale with the Eastern Washington Eagles at Dee Events Center on Saturday.
The goal for the Eagles right now is just win and hope that will be enough to secure a spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Eastern Washington is 7-12 in league action and would need a win and losses from Southern Utah, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State on Saturday to have a shot at making the seven- team field.
Weber State has been in current conference leader Montana's rearview mirror all season and coming into the final game of the season the Wildcats are still just a game back. The Wildcats' 17-2 record in league play already guarantees them at least the No. 2 seed in the Big Sky Tournament. For the Wildcats to grab the regular-season title, Montana would have to lose to Northern Arizona on Saturday. Since they split the season series with Montana the team's RPI would then determine the league champion. That favors the Wildcats who are just two spots ahead of the Grizzlies in that regard.
First, Weber State will need a repeat of its 74-53 win from earlier in the season against Eastern Washington for that scenario to be possible. The Wildcats' victory against the Eagles was the fourth straight and ninth in the last 10 meetings between the two programs. Weber State also owns a commanding 42-20 lead in the all-time series.
Parker Kelly had quite the game on Thursday against Idaho State as he led the Eagles to an 87-73 win with a game-high 28 points. The Eagles nailed 14 shots from beyond the arc in the contest and shot at a 53.7 percent clip overall to coast to victory.
For the Eagles, the major issue keeping them from putting more wins on the board is their weakness on defense. Eastern Washington is allowing teams to score 74.8 points per game. Part of the problem is the inability to put pressure on opposing backcourts as they are among the bottom five teams in the country in assists allowed (16.2 pg). Eastern Washington is scoring just under 70 points per game itself, while ranking second in the Big Sky in rebounds (36 pg). In just his freshman season, Venky Jois (12.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg. 2.4 bpg) has played beyond his years as he leads the team in points, while topping the conference in rebounds and blocks.
On Thursday Weber State rolled over Portland State, 80-52 for its 10th- straight victory. Davion Berry scored 19 points in the contest and both Scott Bamforth (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Joel Bolomboy (10 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles.
Weber State is a balanced team that plays exceptionally well at both ends of the floor. The Wildcats are shooting the best percentage from the floor in the country (.512), while ranking at the top of the Big Sky in points per game (76.1 pg). They couple their prolific offense by locking teams up on defense. The Wildcats allow just 61.1 points per game while holding teams to just 39.5 percent shooting. Berry (15.4 ppg) and Bamforth (13.1 ppg) are carrying the bulk of the offensive load for the Wildcats. Berry has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 games with six of those efforts ending in point totals of at least 20. Kyle Tresnak (11.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) is a solid third option, as he finishes on 55 percent of his shots from the field.
The Wildcats have been dominating against the lower level teams in the Big Sky all season and that isn't likely to change on their home floor where they are 13-1, especially with what is at stake.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Weber State 76, Eastern Washington 63
03/09 10:45:00 ET