North Dakota (13-15) at Eastern Washington (9-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 5:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reese Court (6,000) -- Cheney, Washington. Television: None. Home Record: UND 8-5, EWU 7-6. Away Record: UND 5-10, EWU 1-12. Neutral Record: UND 0-0, EWU 1-1. Conference Record: UND 10-8, EWU 6-11. Series Record: North Dakota leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Washington Eagles play their final home game of the 2012-13 season on Saturday afternoon, as they welcome North Dakota to Reese Court for a Big Sky Conference showdown.
North Dakota's season as a whole hasn't been much to brag about at 13-15, but it has been solid in its inaugural campaign as a member of the Big Sky, as it sits alone in third place with a 10-8 mark. It has gone 2-1 on its current road trip, with its most recent contest at Portland State ending in a 74-66 triumph on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Eastern Washington is sitting near the bottom of the conference standings at 6-11. After winning a BracketBuster matchup with Sam Houston State last Saturday (81-76), the Eagles fell back to their losing ways with an 88-80 overtime setback versus Northern Colorado on Thursday.
These two teams met for the first time since 1982 on Jan. 17, with North Dakota claiming a 65-47 win in Grand Forks to take a 2-1 lead in the all-time series.
North Dakota controlled its latest game throughout, leading Portland State wire-to-wire en route to the eight-point victory. It shot an impressive 47.1 percent from the field and also did its job at the defensive end by holding the Vikings to 40 percent shooting while forcing 18 turnovers. Troy Huff led the way for UND with 18 points, and Aaron Anderson wasn't far behind with 16 of his own. Jamal Webb stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Shane Benton rounded out a balanced effort with 10 points. Despite its winning record in league play, North Dakota still allows more points (68.0 ppg) than it manages to score itself (66.7 ppg). Huff missed eight games earlier in the year with an injury, but his presence in the lineup is invaluable, as his 18.7 ppg would rank first in the league had he played enough games to qualify. He would also rank among the league leaders in rebounding (7.3 pg) and steals (2.4 pg). In addition to being quality scorers, Anderson (13.9 ppg) and Webb (9.4 ppg) get their teammates involved as well, combining for more than seven assists per contest.
After trailing for most of the second half on Thursday, Eastern Washington held a three-point lead in the final minute of regulation before Northern Colorado drained a 3-pointer to force overtime, where it outscored the Eagles, 16-8. EWU put up a solid point total by shooting 46 percent from the field and 73.7 percent from the foul line, but it cost itself by committing twice as many turnovers (22) as it forced (11). Pacing five players in double figures was Tyler Harvey with 22 points, and although he nets just 5.2 ppg on the season, his average in the last five tilts sits at 15.4 ppg. Martin Seiferth scored 11 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds (third-most in school history), Venky Jois put up 14 points, Collin Chiverton had 11 points off the bench, and Parker Kelly chipped in with 10. The Eagles have little issue putting points on the board this season (68.9 ppg), but they have been plagued by the second-worst scoring defense in the Big Sky (74.8 ppg). Jois (12.7 ppg) is the league's most imposing big man, as he ranks first in both rebounding (9.3 pg) and blocks (2.5 pg). Seiferth is also solid in the paint with 8.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 2.1 bpg, while Chiverton provides a spark in his reserve role with 10.8 ppg.
After a long road trip, North Dakota is due for a letdown, especially considering its weak record away from home overall (5-10). EWU has been inconsistent, but it should be able to put up enough points to outlast a UND squad with heavy legs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Washington 75, North Dakota 70
03/02 10:39:14 ET