Eagles Hold Off Sacramento State, Extend Winning Streak to Seven - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles Hold Off Sacramento State, Extend Winning Streak to Seven Games

Sir Washington had a career-high 15 points off the bench in the Eagles win. (Photo: EWU Athletics) Sir Washington had a career-high 15 points off the bench in the Eagles win. (Photo: EWU Athletics)

by EWU Athletics

Fast starts have been common for the Eagles in their last 10 victories, but Thursday (Feb. 18) they took it to a new level.  

The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team made 15 of its first 19 shots to open an early double-digit lead, and ended up using a 53 percent shooting night to defeat Sacramento State 93-88 in a Big Sky Conference game at The Nest in Sacramento, Calif.  

The Eagles led by 18 at halftime and by as many as 20 early in the second half. The Hornets put together runs of 9-0 and 12-2 in the second half to cut the lead to four with 17 seconds left. But the Eagles sank just enough free throws - 7-of-13 in the final 3:10 to hold on for the win.  

Six Eagles scored in double figures, including a career-high 15 off the bench by sophomore Sir Washington. Sophomore Bogdan Bliznyuk and senior Venky Jois both had double-doubles, and Austin McBroom sank 13-of-18 free throws to finish with 22 points and seven assists.  

"I'm really proud of our team for coming out and executing our game plan very well," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "We just shot the ball fantastic and adjusted to all their adjusting defenses. Sir gave us a huge spark off the bench. Their bigs are bigger than our bigs, but Venky and Bogdan held their own and out-rebounded them. Austin got fouled about 20 times tonight, but kept taking the hits."

Eastern won for the seventh-straight time -- its longest in 12 years -- and has now won 10 of its last 12 since opening the league season 0-2. The Eagles have now led 93 percent of the time during its winning streak and 91 percent of the time in those 10 wins, and have won their last eight games when they've made at least half of their shots. 

"I would have like us to finish the game a little better and we turned it over a lot, so that is something we'll have to coach through and get better at," said Hayford, whose team was guilty of 14 turnovers. "But at the end of the day, we'll take the road win here. It's a good road win."    

The Eagles are now 16-10 overall and 10-4 in the league, with a 6-10 record on the road and perfect 10-0 mark at home. In league games, EWU is 7-0 at Reese Court and 3-4 on the road. The Hornets are 3-10 in the league and 10-14 overall, after entering the league season a 7-4 non-conference mark. Sac State has lost its last four games.

With its third-straight road win, Eastern successfully began a stretch in which it will play its final three games of the league season away from Reese Court. Aided by a loss on Thursday by Idaho State, Eastern solidified its hold on third place in the Big Sky Conference standings, but still has a battle on its hands to remain in the top four in the conference and earn one of four first-round byes in the Big Sky Conference Tournament March 8-12 in Reno.

Eastern plays Saturday (Feb. 20) at Portland State before playing its lone game the following week on Feb. 27 at Idaho. Portland State is now 4-9 in the Big Sky and 8-16 overall after an 80-74 home loss Thursday versus Idaho, giving the Vikings a five-game losing streak.

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