Eagles Put the Clamps on the Bears After Shootout Loss to the Fighting Hawks
February 16, 2017
Filed under Sports
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With only a handful of games remaining, the EWU men’s basketball team looks to close out the regular season on a high note. A 70-44 victory over the Northern Colorado Bears on Feb. 11 got the team back on track after a loss to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Feb. 9.
Sophomore guard Ty Gibson led the Eagles in scoring, setting a career-high with 21 points and making six of his eight three-point attempts. It was EWU’s lockdown defense that set the tone though, as the Eagles held Northern Colorado to 28 percent shooting overall, including just 14 percent from beyond the arc. The 44 points allowed was a season best for the Eagles.
“I am just really proud of our team,” said head coach Jim Hayford. “Our players just executed well and that is how you get the win. They responded to the challenge. We are very fortunate to get a road win like this — it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. We played really good.”
The win on the road against Northern Colorado was crucial after losing to North Dakota in a 95-86 shootout to get the Eagles back on track. Senior Jake Wiley poured in 33 points on 11-17 shooting while grabbing 10 rebounds and played every minute of the game, but it was not enough to overcome the hot-shooting Fighting Hawks. Hayford said he admired the the team’s effort but thought the team did not execute well enough.
“We got down by 17 and came back to take the lead, but we shouldn’t have ever been down by 17 early,” Hayford said.
Wiley has been one of the nation’s best scorers throughout the season at 20.4 PPG but has turned it on as of late, scoring 34, 38, 45, 33 and 19 points against Northern Colorado as he dealt with foul trouble.
The Eagles need Wiley to continue his sensational play after the tough loss to North Dakota dropped the Eagles to third place in the Big Sky Conference, holding a conference record of 9-4, one game behind North Dakota and one and a half games out of first place, held by the Weber State Wildcats.
Looking to build off their stellar defensive performance, the Eagles return to Reese Court for three consecutive home games over the next two weekends.
EWU next plays on Feb. 17 against the Idaho Vandals at 6 p.m. The game can be heard live on 700-AM ESPN.