Use promo code BIGCLIFF for $5 off!
($5 discount not available for student/children tickets)
- Adults: $15, lower level. $10, upper level.
- Seniors: $10
- Students*/Children: $5
- Season Ticket Holders: Contact the Athletic Ticket Office by noon on Friday, March 2, to reserve your same season tickets seats. (Call 509.359.6059 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
*Attention EWU Students: Thanks to the ASEWU and Housing & Residential Life, up to 500 EWU students can pick up a FREE ticket in the University Bookstore‘s customer service desk! Please note: Eagle Cards will not get you free admission at Reese Court as this is a tournament game.
Previous wins don’t mean much now – it is loser-out time in the Big Sky Conference.
Playing Idaho State for the third time in a 10-day span, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team hosts the Bengals Saturday (March 3) in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Championship. Tipoff is 2:05 p.m. Pacific time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
A 77-64 victory over the Bengals on Feb. 28 clinched the No. 4 seed in the Big Sky Conference Championship for the Eagles, who finished the regular season 8-8 in the Big Sky and 14-16 overall. The win completed a season sweep for the Eagles versus ISU, having defeated the Bengals in Pocatello 85-78 on Feb. 23.
Idaho State has now lost four-straight games and will limp into the tournament with a 7-9 league record and 9-20 overall mark. The Eagles have won the last five games in the series, and Eastern has also won the last nine meetings in Cheney, dating back to a 65-63 Bengal win at EWU on March 1, 2003.
But lest the Eagles get over-confident, EWU was swept by ISU in the 2002-03 season, only to knock off the Bengals in the league tournament.
“The great thing about playing a team three times in a season is that it means you are in the postseason,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “It is something that I want our team to experience regularly. It is a little different because there is a lot of familiarity between the two teams. And that is where you need to have a lot of wisdom.”
The radio broadcast of this Saturday’s game, featuring play-by-play announcer Dennis Patchin, may be heard on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at 700espn.com and via iPhone application (search for “700 ESPN” and download the free app).
Tickets for Saturday’s game are priced at $15 (lower section/mezzanine) and $10 (upper section) for adults, with special prices available for senior citizens ($10 in lower section/mezzanine), EWU students ($5 in EWU student section) and for all other students/children ($5 in upper section for children high school age and under). Tickets may be obtained via www.goeags.com or by calling 1-800-325-7328.
The Bengals finished tied for fifth with Montana State (7-9, 12-16), but they won the tiebreaker because of a 64-62 home victory over Weber State on Jan. 28. That came during ISU’s season-best four-game winning streak, which has been followed by just one victory (79-73 over Northern Arizona on Feb. 11) in its last seven games.
If the Eagles win Saturday’s game, they will play in the semifinals on March 6 against either Montana (15-1, 23-6) or Weber State (14-2, 23-5) in Missoula, Mont. The Grizzlies wrapped-up the regular season league title on Feb. 28 with a 66-51 over the Wildcats in Missoula, Mont. Portland State (10-6, 16-13) finished third and will host the Bobcats in Saturday’s other quarterfinal game. The championship game in the tournament is March 7 at 6 p.m. Pacific time and will be televised on ESPN2.
The Eagles will be making their 12th appearance in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, and second-straight after a string of four-straight misses. The Eagles will be hosting their first postseason playoff game in six years, the first since March 4, 2006 when the Eagles knocked off Portland State in Cheney by an 81-75 score. Rodney Stuckey scored 38 points in that game – the second-most in the career of the current Detroit Piston and the sixth-best performance in school history.
Hayford knows Saturday’s game will be an intense chess match.
“What do we keep doing because it works? What do I think they will have an answer for the next time? And what do we change that they don’t know about?,” Hayford said of the questions that arise in such a situation. “So that is what we are going to try to answer for the next 72 hours as we watch video.”
Versus ISU on Senior Night in Cheney, senior point guard Cliff Colimon had a career-high 28 points to eclipse his previous high by one. He also added four assists versus the Bengals – all in the second half when he scored 20 of his points. Colimon had a four-point play with 53 seconds left in the first half to give EWU a five-point lead, then EWU out-scored ISU 44-35 after intermission, including a 30-15 run in the first 10:38 of the second half.
“Ultimately the team that wins is the team that plays the hardest,” Hayford explained. “Tuesday was a big step in the right direction because on some home nights we’ve stepped onto the court too relaxed. We’ll be ready for Saturday, and we’ll be ready to rock and roll.”
Senior forward Laron Griffin finished with 18 points, just one behind his career high set on Nov. 18, 2010, versus Northwest University, but it was a career high versus a NCAA Division I opponent. Griffin also had 12 rebounds for his fifth career double-double, and added four steals and two blocked shots.
“Give the credit to the players,” added Hayford, whose team had just 11 turnovers and scored 25 points off 17 ISU miscues. “As coach you put a game plan together that gives you an opportunity to win a game. Particularly defensively, we really stuck to the game plan like glue and did it without fouling. I was really proud of our guys sticking with the defensive game plan and not getting beat off ball screens and handoffs.”
In the meeting versus ISU in Pocatello, a trio of EWU players combined to make 9-of-10 free throws in the final 41 seconds, helping Eastern clinch a postseason playoff berth. True freshman Parker Kelly came off the bench to equal his career high with 17 points and lead a barrage of 3-pointers by the Eagles. Eastern made 9-of-21 in the first half and sank 10-of-26 in the game, as Kelly made five of his first six and finished 5-of-7. Senior point guard Cliff Colimon added three baskets beyond the 3-point arc and finished with a game-high 21 points, with senior forward Laron Griffin chipping in 15 points.