Epic 3-Overtime Game Yields School Record 45 Points for Wiley AN - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Epic 3-Overtime Game Yields School Record 45 Points for Wiley AND Bliznyuk

Photo: @LarryWeirPBP Photo: @LarryWeirPBP

by EWU Athletics

Team wins can come even when not just one, but two players break a school record for points scored.
Senior graduate transfer Jacob Wiley
and junior Bogdan Bliznyuk
each equaled the school record with 45 points in helping Jim Hayford win his 100th game as head men's basketball coach at Eastern Washington University with a 130-124 victory over Portland State Saturday (Feb. 4) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The epic, three-overtime victory featured a school-record point total for Eastern, as well as a record for combined points. Eastern has now played 10 overtime periods this year, five more than the previous school record.
"It was a classic – that was something else," said Hayford, who is now 100-87 in six seasons at EWU. "It was two teams just going at it. There were some amazing individual performances and some amazing clutch baskets. There were some pressure free throws. You got back through and you start forgetting all the different, just amazing plays that took place."
Despite EWU's dynamic duo combining for 90 of EWU's 130 points, 32 of the team's 44 field goals, and 26 of EWU's 34 free throws, Hayford was quick to credit the entire team for the win. Four players scored in double figures, with Felix Von Hofe scoring 14 and Cody Benzel finishing with 12.
"In the last 35 minutes of that game – second half and three overtimes – I don't remember an offensive execution that any guy on our team missed," he said. "If it was isolation for Bogdan or post-up to Jake, other players had to have proper spacing or get the ball to them with good timing. All of our players did exactly what they were supposed to do – it was a great team win, highlighted by two amazing individual performances. I'm just really happy to get the win, be 8-3 in Big Sky play and have 16 wins. We'll let them rest and get Monday off – I think they earned it. It's a great day to be an Eagle."
Wiley finished with a double-double with 45 points and 17 rebounds, and Bliznyuk nearly had a triple-double with 45 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Wiley made 18-of-23 shots from the floor and 9-of-12 from the line, and Bliznyuk sank 14-of-29 field goals and 17-of-20 free throws.
"I've never coached a game where two guys each had 45 points, and they both had double-doubles," said Hayford. "We just kept going to them because they were doing so well, and Portland State didn't have an answer for them.
 "It's amazing and it's really neat to have it happen in a win," he added. "It's the kind of stat you don't want to have happen in a loss."
Won-Lost Records . . .  
* The Eagles are now 16-8 in their 34th season as a member of NCAA Division I and 8-3 in the league as they continue their 30th season as a member of the Big Sky. Eastern is now 12-1 at home and 4-7 on the road. Eastern's three league losses were by a combined 10 points (6, 3, 1).
* The Vikings are 11-10 overall and 4-6 in the Big Sky standings. Earlier this season, the Vikings had a five-game winning in December, including road wins at San Francisco (82-78) and Portland (77-75). Their four road victories this season also include a 91-85 triumph at Pepperdine.
What It Means . . .
* The victory was important for the Eagles to maintain second place in the conference standings, because North Dakota also won Saturday, beating Northern Colorado 87-77 in overtime. Weber State plays later Saturday and enters that game leading the league race at 8-1, followed by idle North Dakota and EWU at 8-3 each. The top five teams secure first-round byes in the Big Sky Conference Tournament March 7-11 to Reno, Nevada. There are still eight games left to play for the Eagles in the league season.
What's Next . . .
* Eastern and North Dakota will battle it out for second place – or higher – when they meet Thursday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m. Pacific time in Grand Forks. Eastern then plays in Greeley, Colo., on Saturday (Feb. 11) in a game that begins at 1 p.m. Pacific time.
Keys to Game . . .
* Eastern had advantages in shooting and rebounding, which offset PSU's advantages in the turnover department. Eastern mad 56 percent of its shots in the game, and Portland State made 54 percent, while EWU had a 49-34 rebounding advantage. It was the sixth time in EWU's last nine games the Eagles have had an advantage on the boards. In its first 15 games, Eastern had a rebounding advantage just three times. The Eagles are now 8-1 this season when they out-rebound opponents. Portland State forced 21 turnovers and had 13 itself, leading to a 23-13 advantage for the Vikings in points off turnovers.
Top Performers . . .
* Senior graduate transfer Jacob Wiley made 61 percent of his shots from the field (14-of-23) and 76.9 percent from the free throw line (10-of-13) on his way to a school-record 45 points. His 17 rebounds equaled the eighth-most in school history, and it was his sixth double-double of the season. He entered the game ranked seventh in NCAA Division I in blocked shots (2.91), eight nationally in field goal percentage (.637), 91st in free throw percentage (.839) and 94th in scoring (17.9). In league only statistics, he entered leading the league in scoring (25.4), rebounds (9.0), field goal percentage (.673) and blocked shots (2.6).
* Junior Bogdan Bliznyuk finished with his fourth double-double of the season and 13th of his career, scoring a school-record 45 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also had nine assists, coming just one stat from a triple-double for the second time of his career. He already owns the lone triple-double in school history. He entered the game ranked 90th nationally in scoring (18.0).
* Senior Felix Von Hofe finished with 14 points, making 3-of-8 3-point attempts. He entered the game ranked 45th in NCAA Division I with an average of 2.87 3-pointers per game. He moved into 13th in career 3-pointers in the Big Sky with a current total of 235, which is 25 from the school record of 260 set by his former Eastern teammate Tyler Harvey from 2013-15.
* Sophomore Cody Benzel came off the bench to make all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half to finish with 12 points in the game.
Turning Point . . .
* The game had lots of twists and turns, starting when EWU led 39-26 at halftime and by as many as 16 in the second half. But the Vikings scored 60 in the next 20 minutes, making 14-of-17 shots at one point in the second half en route to a blistering 65 percent for the half to knot the game at 86 heading into overtime. But in the third overtime, Eastern scored the first five points on a three-point play by Jacob Wiley and a basket by Bogdan Bliznyuk to take the lead for good. Bliznyuk made eight free throws in the last 1:15 to help build a 10-point lead and ice the game for the Eagles.
Key Stats . . .
* Eastern's 130 points eclipsed the previous school record of 126 set against George Fox on Nov. 15, 2015. The 254 points combined shattered the previous record of 225 set in a 118-107 loss to Carroll on Dec. 8, 1967. The most combined points in an Eastern victory was 218 in a 124-94 victory over Eastern Montana on Jan. 20, 1969.
* The 45 points by both Bogdan Bliznyuk and Jacob Wiley equaled the record set by Rodney Stuckey in a 105-95 loss to Northern Arizona on Jan. 5, 2006. The combined 90 points by Bliznyuk and Wiley was easily a school and Big Sky Conference record, and came just two points from the NCAA Division I mark of 92 set by Kevin Bradshaw (72) & Isaac Brown (20) for U.S. International (now Alliant International) vs. Loyala Marymount on Jan. 5, 1991. Interestingly, they combined for 68 (Bradshaw 37, Brown 31) in a 118-83 loss to Eastern on Feb. 2, 1991, and 39 the year before (Bradshaw 30, Brown 9) in a 102-93 victory over EWU on Dec. 21, 1989.
Team Highlights . . .
* Eastern head coach Jim Hayford has reached 100 victories as an Eastern coach in just his sixth season at the helm. He could be the fastest to 100 in Eastern history, with Red Reese (470-301 in 31 seasons) achieving that feat in his seventh season. Vin Eustis (108-43 in eight seasons) hit 100 in his eighth and final year at the helm, and Jerry Krause (261-197 in 17 seasons) also reached his 100th in his eighth season. That trio and Hayford are the only coaches in the school's 109-season history (17 total coaches, nine in NCAA Division I) to have more than 75 victories. Hayford currently has a 100-87 record at Eastern, and is 354-171 in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Notables . . .
* The Eagles used a 13-0 run in the first half to open a double-digit lead, with Cody Benzel contributing a pair of 3-pointers in that stretch. Jacob Wiley added four points as EWU held PSU scoreless for 5:20. Benzel hit another 3-pointer with 5:45 left to open a 25-13 lead for the Eagles, who led at halftime 39-26. Benzel made all four of his 3-pointers to score all 12 points of his points in the first half, and Wiley had 15 on 7-of-10 shooting from the field.
* The Eagles have set a school record with 10 extra periods this season, and are now 5-1 this season in games requiring extra periods.  Eastern defeated Seattle 80-76 in double overtime on Nov. 22 and then beat Denver in its next game in overtime by an 85-80 score. Two games later, the Eagles played at Seattle in another double-overtime thriller, winning 93-88. Eastern beat Morehead State 88-86 on Dec. 13, but then didn't have another until Jan. 28 when Montana State prevailed 91-90 in OT. The previous record for overtime periods in a single year was five in the 1998-99 season, including four extra periods in a 101-100 loss to Weber State on Jan. 16, 1993. The Eagles had no overtime games last season, two in 2014-15, one in 2013-14 and four in 2012-13
* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are now 21-22 versus the Vikings. All of the meetings have come since the 1996-97 school year when PSU joined the Big Sky Conference, and Eastern is 14-8 in Cheney and 7-13 against PSU in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) since then. The Vikings have a 25-22 edge in the overall series.
More Comments from Head Coach Jim Hayford . . .
On 100th Win at Eastern: "I didn't even know it until this past week. I've coached over 500 games, and at the end of year two here I was just hoping to be around for year four. We hoped all of our younger players would develop, and they did develop into a NCAA Tournament team. This year's team has a chance for the third year in a row to have one of Eastern's top four NCAA Division I records. I don't know how hard it was for the others who won 100 games, but I'll tell you it is hard to get Division I wins. I'm very grateful for our players. Coaches put players in a position to win games, but players win games."
On Portland State: "They scored 60 points after a 26-point first half. They are fast and they are a hard team to guard. They recruit to speed and skill. We go skill and size, so it's a polar opposite. The first half was the game we wanted to play, and the second half was the game they wanted to play. The last three overtimes was doing what you needed to do to survive. We're fortunate to be on this side, and it's hard in being in the other locker room with a triple overtime loss. My hat is off to Portland State – they gave it everything they had."
On Playing 10 OT Periods This Season: "We've already set the school record for overtime periods, now we're just adding to it. Our players feel like if there is time left on the clock we can win. It's not a false emotion, they just truly believe that."

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