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Eastern Washington (9-20) at Idaho State (5-23)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 7, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Gym (2,666) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: EWU 7-7, Idaho State 4-6. Away Record: EWU 1-12, Idaho State 1-14. Neutral Record: EWU 1-1, Idaho State 0-3. Conference Record: EWU 6-12, Idaho State 3-12. Series Record: EWU leads, 36-26.
GAMES NOTES: Jim Hayford will coach in his 400th game of his career as he leads the Eastern Washington Eagles in a Big Sky Conference bout with the Idaho State Bengals at Reed Gym on Thursday night.
Hayford and the Eagles are still clinging to hope for a Big Sky Tournament berth though that hope is hanging by a thread. For the Eagles to get into the postseason they would need wins in their final two games, while needing Northern Arizona and Sacramento State to drop each of their final games of the season. The Eagles are just 9-20 overall and 6-12 in league action and will have a tough time fulfilling their end of the bargain to grab the seventh and final spot in the Big Sky Tournament as they face powerhouse Weber State in Saturday's finale.
Idaho State has no shot at securing a spot in the conference tourney as the team is dead last in the Big Sky at 4-14 in league action while a paltry 5-23 overall this season. The Bengals have been set down in 11 of their last 12 games and will wrap up the tough campaign by hosting Portland State on Saturday.
Venky Jois posted a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds as Eastern Washington held off the Bengals in a 57-54 win earlier this season. The Eagles have now won seven straight against Idaho State while improving their all-time series lead to 36-26.
For the third time in the last four games, Eastern Washington was handed a defeat in its most recent contest against North Dakota. The Eagles were outscored 20-8 in points off turnovers in the game as they wasted a 14-point, 14-rebound and seven-block effort from Martin Seiferth in the 78-74 setback.
Venky Jois (12.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.5 bpg) has enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign but has been stumbling a bit down the stretch especially after he managed just six points against North Dakota. Jois is still a lock for freshman of the year in the Big Sky as he leads the conference in both rebounds (9.1 pg) and blocks (2.5 pg). Collin Chiverton (11.0 ppg) has stepped up his game late in the season and has scored in double figures in three- straight games which tied a season-high. The Eagles' real issue has been on defense as they allow just under 75 points per game while allowing teams to assists on 16.4 field goals per game, which is among the five worst marks in the country.
Melvin Morgan missed a potential game-winning 3-point attempt as time expired as the Bengals sank in a 53-52 loss to Sacramento State. The Bengals continued their season long struggle on the offensive end in the contest shooting 36.2 percent from the field while hitting just 5-of-23 shots from beyond the arc.
All year long Idaho State has been horrific on the offensive end of the floor ranking dead last in the Big Sky in points (55.9 pg), assists (10 pg) and field goal percentage (.404). The Bengals scoring production has them among the worst 10 teams in the country. Idaho State has been solid defensively letting up just 63.2 points per game on 44 percent shooting. The glass has also proved to be a struggle for the Bengals who are among the five worst teams on the boards (27.8 pg). Morgan (11.9 ppg) and Chris Hansen (11.0 ppg) are the two best scoring options on the roster but each has shot at a 35.4 percent rate from the floor. Tomas Sanchez (10.7 ppg, 3.8 apg) is the primary distributor with Andre Hatchett (8.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) the best rebounder.
Even though Eastern Washington isn't one of the elite teams in the Big Sky the Eagles have still been far ahead of the Bengals and with the motivation of a possible postseason spot on the line they should grab a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Washington 65, Idaho State 60
03/07 10:34:38 ET