Men’s Basketball Moves Into Sole Possession of Third Place With Home Win Over Idaho
February 23, 2017
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Sometimes it takes team effort to come out on top.
That is exactly what the EWU men needed in Friday’s 77-67 victory over Idaho at Reese Court, as four Eagles scored in double figures. Junior point-forward Bogdan Bliznyuk led the way with 25 points and 13 rebounds.
As a result, the Eagles improved to 18-9 on the season and 10-4 in the Big Sky Conference (BSC), claiming sole possession of third place with four games to go in conference play.
In addition to Bliznyuk, Sir Washington exploded off the bench for 17 points, while Ty Gibson and Felix Von Hofe had 10 each.
One name was noticeably absent from the double-figure brigade, Jacob Wiley. The BSC’s leading scorer was held to single digits for the third time all season. However, this did not stop Wiley from impacting the game. He finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists and five blocks.
From the tip, Idaho was focused solely on stopping Wiley in the post. But instead of forcing anything, Wiley remained patient, taking only two shots in the first half.
At the intermission, the Eagles were shooting 64 percent (compared to Idaho’s 37) but only held a three point lead as Idaho scored 16 points off eight EWU turnovers.
They were playing well, but they needed a boost. That is when Wiley’s patience paid off. With all Vandal eyes on one man, EWU was able to convert on 5-10 three pointers in the second frame, including two each from Von Hofe and Washington.
“Everybody on this team attacks their role,” said Bliznyuk. “We’re super cohesive, and no one wants anything other than to win. A lot of times it’ll be different guys stepping up.”
The duo led an 11-0 run for the Eagles to blow the game open in the second half, while Bliznyuk registered 17 of his 25 points after the break.
The top five teams in the BSC get a first round bye in the conference tournament, held March 7-11 in Reno, Nevada.
At this point, the 10-4 third place Eagles have a solid chance at earning a bye, but head coach Jim Hayford’s goals are perched a bit higher.
“Our goal going into the season was to get 20 wins, and that’s happened only twice in all of Eastern’s Division I history,” said Hayford. “That’s a lofty goal and we’re closing in on it. Hopefully we can turn that goal into winning a Big Sky championship.”