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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bren Events Center (5,000) -- Irvine, California. Television: None. Home Record: Eastern Washington 2-0, Long Island 1-0. Away Record: Eastern Washington 0-1, Long Island 0-2. Neutral Record: Eastern Washington 1-0, Long Island 0-0. Conference Record: Eastern Washington 0-0, Long Island 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: The Eastern Washington Eagles and the Long Island Blackbirds will go head-to-head on Saturday as part of the 2K Sports Classic at the Bren Events Center.
Venky Jois and Tyler Harvey each had 20-point efforts and Drew Brandon flirted with a triple-double, as the Eagles opened up the tournament with an 80-68 victory over Boston University. Eastern Washington has won three of its four games on the season, but the victory over the Terriers was the first to come against a Division I squad. The Eagles finish off the three-day event on Sunday against host UC Irvine.
The first matchup for the Blackbirds during the three-day event ended in a dismal loss as they were routed by host UC Irvine, 84-64. It was the second- straight loss for Long Island, which fell (73-72) by a slim margin against Indiana on Thursday after topping Saint Peter's (87-80) in the season opener. Up next for the Blackbirds is a matchup with Boston University on Sunday.
On Saturday these two teams will match up on the hardwood for the first time ever.
Harvey nailed five 3-pointers and scored 21 points, Jois added 20 points and eight rebounds and Brandon had 15 points, 12 boards and seven assists in the win over the Terriers. Harvey helped the Eagles net 10 3-pointers in the contest, while Jois aided in a 34-22 advantage on points in the paint.
The Eagles have been no stranger to success from beyond the arc or the offensive end in general early on. With a scoring average of 82.2 points per game and a success rate of better than 40 percent from 3-point range, the Eagles have been able to outgun most teams. Harvey (19.2 ppg) is the leading scorer but he has not been particularly versatile, averaging five 3-pointers per game. Jois (16.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) does the bulk of his scoring around the basket but he does have some range. Brandon (11.2 ppg, 20.3 ppg, 7.2 apg) is stuffing the stat sheet as the team leader in rebounds and assists as well as one of five double figure scorers. Martin Seiferth (10.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Parker Kelly (10.0 ppg) provide additional scoring depth.
Against the Anteaters the Blackbirds were never able to find a rhythm on offense and they also failed to put up much of a fight on defense. Over the course of the game they netted just 34.4 percent of their shots from the floor while being outscored, 38-20, in the paint.
The Blackbirds have struggled with their interior defense this season, allowing teams to knock down 55 percent of their shots from inside the 3-point arc. However they have had some success in defending against the three-ball with foes netting just 28.3 percent from beyond the arc. When on offense Gilbert Parga (12.7 ppg) and E.J. Reed (12.3 ppg) are the top options, though the Blackbirds benefit from having four different players averaging in double figures. Parga had only 10 points on 1-of-4 shooting against UC Irvine while Reed struggled even more, with five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Landon Atterberry (11.0 ppg) boosted his season scoring average with a team-high 14 points on Friday, while Gerrell Martin (11.3 ppg) can also be relied on as a scorer.
The nucleus of Harvey, Jois and Brandon give the Eagles a ton of versatility and production. The Blackbirds are not so fortunate and will struggle on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Washington 81, Long Island 72
11/23 10:36:02 ET