Eagles Get First Big Sky Road Win at Northern Arizona - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles Get First Big Sky Road Win at Northern Arizona

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Austin McBroom led the way with 28 points in EWU's first Big Sky road win. (Photo: EWU Athletics) Austin McBroom led the way with 28 points in EWU's first Big Sky road win. (Photo: EWU Athletics)

By EWU Athletics

A big hot stretch in the first half and solid defense made the difference on a breakthrough night for the Eagles.
 
The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team led from start-to-finish for the sixth time in its last eight games, and the Eagles registered their first Big Sky Conference road win of the season with an 84-73 victory at Northern Arizona Thursday (Feb. 4) at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.
 
Four Eagles scored in double figures, led by the 28 of senior graduate transfer Austin McBroom. Sophomore Bogdan Bliznyuk and senior Venky Jois added double-doubles for the Eagles, who kept themselves in the hunt for one of four first-round berths in the league tournament in March.
 
Eastern had a torrid stretch of 13 makes in 19 attempts (68 percent) - including seven 3-pointers - to turn a three-point lead in the first half into a 14-point advantage in the first half. Eastern led by as many as 24 and no fewer than 10 in the second half in improving to 6-4 in the league.
 
"The great part is how we played in the first 30 minutes, and then had a big enough lead to close out the game," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford.  
 
The Eagles held NAU to 36 percent shooting from the field in the first half, and held NAU's leading scorer - Kris Yanku (15.0 per game) -- to just two points on an 0-of-5 shooting night. Eastern led for 39:45 of the game and, for the third-straight outing, never trailed and was not tied other than 0-0.
 
"We played like we have been playing at home," said Hayford, whose team is 8-0 at Reese Court this season. "We played 40 minutes and came in here and got a road win. It's what you want to do. If you are the better team, you want to come in in the first half and take the game away from the other team. Then you answer in the beginning of the second half and get separation -- we did a really good job with that. I'm proud of our team."
   
The Eagles are now 12-10 overall and 6-4 in the league, with a 4-10 record on the road perfect 8-0 mark at home. In league games, EWU is 5-0 at Reese Court and 1-4 on the road. Northern Arizona is now 3-18 overall and 1-9 in the league, and has a seven-game losing streak.
 
The road win has put the Eagles in a great position to finish the year with a winning record and earn one of four first-round byes in the Big Sky Conference Tournament March 8-12 in Reno. Eastern's first road breakthrough of the league season moved Eastern from a four-way tie for fourth into a three-way tie for third in the Big Sky standings. Eastern is tied at 6-4 with Idaho and North Dakota, just ahead of Idaho State at 5-4.
 
Eastern plays Saturday (Feb. 6) at Southern Utah, which fell to Idaho 68-44 on Thursday. The Thunderbirds are now 4-16 overall and 2-8 in the league, and have lost their last four outings. Eastern soundly defeated both NAU and SUU earlier this season at home, knocking off the Thunderbirds 106-80 and NAU two days later by a 96-73 score.

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