Northern Colorado (9-17) at Eastern Washington (9-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reese Court (6,000) -- Cheney, Washington. Television: None. Home Record: Northern Colorado 7-5, EWU 7-5. Away Record: Northern Colorado 2-12, EWU 1-12. Neutral Record: Northern Colorado 0-0, EWU 1-1. Conference Record: Northern Colorado 7-10, EWU 6-10. Series Record: Northern Colorado leads, 7-5.
GAMES NOTES: The Northern Colorado Bears and the Eastern Washington Eagles will each try to make a push for a spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament when they face off at Reese Court on Thursday night.
Since only seven teams of the 11-team league make the cut for the Big Sky Tournament there isn't much time left for either of these teams.
Northern Colorado is right on the edge of qualifying with a record of 7-10 which has it a game back of the seventh spot. The Bears have lost two straight games entering play, the most recent being a 79-78 decision to UC Davis in BracketBusters play. Up next, the Bears play their final game on the road against Portland State.
Eastern Washington is right on Northern Colorado's heels as it sits in ninth in the league standings at 6-10. The Eagles earned a win against Sam Houston State in their BracketBusters matchup and have won three of the last four games. The Eagles wrap up this three-game homestand on Saturday against North Dakota.
Tate Unruh dropped in 21 points and Derrick Barden posted a double-double (15 points, 15 rebounds) to lead Northern Colorado to a win in the previous matchup between these teams this season. The Bears have won six of the last seven meetings and lead the all-time series, 7-5.
Northern Colorado clung to a 78-77 lead with less than 20 seconds against UC Davis after a Paul Garnica 3-pointer. However the Aggies got a buzzer-beating field goal to fall through and sink the Bears. Northern Colorado shot 54.4 percent from the field, but allowed the Aggies to shoot a superior 58.8 percent.
On the campaign, Northern Colorado has fought to about even on the scoreboard, with a slim negative scoring margin (-0.8). The Bears are scoring an even 70 points per game, ranking among the top 50 teams in the country in field-goal percentage (.463). However, on defense the Bears have let teams shoot above 45 percent from the field. Unruh (13.3 ppg) is the leading scorer for the Bears who have three players scoring in double figures. Derrick Barden (12.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) is a solid frontcourt contributor and is a constant double-double threat, while shooting 54.3 percent from the field. Tevin Svihovec (12.0 ppg, 3.4 apg) leads the team in assists.
Eastern Washington got out to a 41-25 victory against Sam Houston State and then shot 50 percent in the second half to hold on for the 81-76 victory. Collin Chiverton led the way in the contest, scoring 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. The Eagles knocked down 10-of-18 shots from beyond the arc as a team.
Since leading scorer Justin Crosgile (14.7 ppg, 5.5 apg) was suspended earlier this season, Chiverton (10.8 ppg) has seen his production increase. The 6- foot-6 forward has scored in double figures in six of the last 10 games. However, Venky Jois (12.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.5 bpg) has been the driving force for the Eagles. The freshman forward has been sensational in his first season as he leads the Big Sky in both rebounds and blocked shots. No other player on the team is scoring in double figures, as the Eagles are shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor.
For Northern Colorado, road trips have been unsuccessful for the most part with the Bears just 2-12 away from home. Though Eastern Washington isn't dominant at home (7-5), the Eagles should find a way to earn the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Washington 74, Northern Colorado 68
02/28 10:37:48 ET