Eagles fall to Wyoming 91-81, eliminated from CBI - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles fall to Wyoming 91-81, eliminated from CBI

Courtesy: EWU Athletics Courtesy: EWU Athletics

By EWU Athletics

Junior Bogdan Blizynuk scored 29 points to lead the team in scoring, as the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team opened play in the College Basketball Invitational with a 91-81 loss against Wyoming on Wednesday (March 15) in Laramie, Wyo. The Cowboys move on to the quarterfinals where they will play Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) next Monday (March 20).

Senior Felix Von Hofe had five 3-pointers versus the Cowboys, giving him a current total of 262 to break the school record of 260 set by his former Eastern teammate Tyler Harvey from 2013-15. Von Hofe's 96 3-pointers this season are sixth all-time at EWU.

The game was the opener in Eastern's repeat appearance in the CBI, which is presented by FIVE FOUR and the Gazelle Group. It is EWU's third-straight national postseason appearance under head coach Jim Hayford, and the school's fifth overall.

The MVP of the Big Sky Conference this season, Jacob Wiley had 26 points against Wyoming, and came up just short to  break the league's record for blocked shots in a single season. He now has 94, one away from tying the record of 95 in the league after previously shattering EWU's school record of 69.

Won-Lost Records . . . 

* The Eagles are 22-12 in their 34th season as a member of NCAA Division I after finishing 13-5 in the league in their 30th season as a member of the Big Sky. Eastern, which has won 11 of its last 17 games, is now 15-1 at home, 6-10 on the road and 1-1 on neutral courts. Eastern's five league losses were by a combined 34 points (6, 3, 1, 9, 15), and they lost to Weber State in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament after beating Sacramento State in the quarterfinals.

* The Cowboys are now 19-14 overall after finishing 8-10 in the Mountain West Conference. Wyoming, which defeated Eastern 78-71 in Laramie on March 20, 2003, in the National Invitation Tournament, lost to Air Force 83-68 on March 8 in the MW Tournament.

What It Means . . .

* The Cowboys will play again on Monday, March 20, in the CBI quarterfinals versus Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). UMKC defeated Green Bay 92-82 earlier tonight and earns their first postseason win in their program's history. They will enter the game against Wyoming with an 18-16 record.

* A year after Eastern's first victory in a national postseason tournament in NCAA Division I, the Eagles lost to Wyoming on the road. Eastern finished with an 18-16 record last season after advancing to the second round of the CBI, including the school's first NCAA Division I postseason win with a 79-72 home victory over Pepperdine. The season came to an end at Nevada by an 85-70 score, and the Wolf Pack went on to defeat Morehead State in the best of three championship final.

Keys to Game . . .

* Eastern took a 20-18 lead with 11:04 left in the first half on a basket by Bogdan Bliznyuk. But the Cowboys scored 22 of the next 28 points over a seven-minute stretch to take command. A 10-0 run gave Wyoming its biggest lead of the night at 41-26 with 4:05 remaining. Eastern scored six of the last nine points and trailed 44-32 at halftime.

* The Eagles came within one point in the second half after Jacob Wiley got fouled on a made dunk with 13:45 left in the second half. After Wiley made the free throw, Wyoming went on a 9-0 run in the next three minutes with EWU coming as close as five for the rest of the game.

Top Performers . . .

* Junior Bogdan Bliznyuk led the team in scoring with 29 points. He went 9-of-18 from the field and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also went 9-of-10 at the free throw line. He also added five rebounds and seven assists to his stats for the game.

* Senior graduate transfer Jacob Wiley scored in double-digits with 26 points. He earned one blocked during the game, which made him one block away from setting the record for blocked shots in the Big Sky's single season record.

* Senior Felix Von Hofe was the one other Eagle to score in double-digits with 17 points. Out of those, 15 of them came from three-pointers, the two other points came from the free throw line. He went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. He ended his career with 262 three-pointers, moving to number six in the Big Sky in career 3-point leaders and now first in the EWU Career Leaders

Key Stats . . .

* Wyoming sank 11-of-18 3-pointers for 61.1 percent. They also went 58.3 percent from the field, going 35-of-60. The Cowboys entered the game averaging 9.6 3-pointers made per game to rank 20th in NCAA Division I, and their 898 total attempts (28.1 per game) ranked seventh.

* Eastern shot 49.2 percent from the field, going 29-of-59. In three pointers, the Eagles went 11-of-26 with a 42.3 percent. Entering the game, Eastern's shooting from the field and at the free throw line both ranked in the top 31 in NCAA Division I and in the top four in the Big Sky Conference. Eastern's 47.9 field goal percentage was 31st in the nation and fourth in the league, led by Jacob Wiley at 64.3 percent to rank sixth individually and first in the league. Eastern entered the game making 76.7 percent from the line to lead the league and rank 17th in NCAA Division I. Jacob Wiley was 114th at 82.7 percent and Bogdan Bliznyuk is 142nd at 81.7 percent. Eastern was also 56th nationally in 3-point shooting at 37.8 percent to rank second in the league. The Eagles are paced by Felix Von Hofe (37.9 to rank 55th nationally), Ty Gibson (49.0 to rank second overall in the league) and Cody Benzel (45.2 to rank third overall in the Big Sky).

Team Highlights . . .

* With one blocked shots against Wyoming to increase his school-record total to 94, Jacob Wiley was one way to tie the Big Sky Conference record in a single season of 95, set by Brian Qvale of Montana in 2010-11. Wiley had previously shattered the previous record of 69 set by Venky Jois in 2015. His blocked shots total already ranks third on EWU's career leaders list. His average of 2.82 per game entering the Wyoming game was first in the league and eighth nationally.

* Felix Von Hofe, had five 3-pointers against Wyoming to give him a career total of 262 to break the school record of 260 set by his former Eastern teammate Tyler Harvey from 2013-15. The winningest player in EWU's NCAA Division I history with 81 victories, he also moved into sixth in career 3-pointers in the Big Sky.

* Jacob Wiley made history in the league this year by becoming just the second player in league history to score at least 639 points and have at least 303 rebounds in a single season in the league's 54-year existence. He has current totals of 694 points and 309 rebounds, respectively, and no other player in league history has coupled that with at least 58 blocks (Wiley has 94) or a shooting percentage of at least .621 (Wiley was at .643 entering the game). Montana's Larry Krystkowiak (now head coach at Utah) is the other player to have at least 639/303 in the same year, and he had 709 points and 364 rebounds in the 1985-86 season.

Notables . . .

* Eastern is 0-6 all-time versus Wyoming, including the 78-71 loss to Wyoming on March 20, 2013, in the first round of the NIT. The other losses came when EWU was a member of the NAIA on 12/17/77 (100-69), 12/15/76 (75-66), 12/6/47 (41-37) and 12/5/47 (62-35). Eastern is 13-67 all-time versus current members of the Mountain West Conference, and have played all but Utah State among the league's 11 teams. The last victory over a team now in the Mountain West was a 65-59 victory over Boise State on Dec, 18, 2002, when the Broncos were in the Western Athletic Conference. One month earlier, however, Eastern beat San Diego State 75-70 on Nov. 23, 2002. Later that same season, Eastern lost to Wyoming 78-71 in the NIT, starting a current streak of 14 losses in a row to current members of the league. The latest loss was an 85-70 setback at Nevada in the semifinals of the 2016 CBI.

* At 22-12 overall, the Eastern basketball program under head coach Jim Hayford has hit a threshold that has occurred just twice in Eastern's 34-year history in NCAA Division I. Since 1983-84, the only other times EWU has won 20 games came in 1985-86 (20-8) and 2014-15 (26-9). This year's team is just one of five in the school's 34-year NCAA Division I history to have at least 18, including three-straight under Hayford.

* Eastern's current total of 81 victories is the best four-year stretch in the school's Division I history, and the third-best overall. Eastern won 83 games from 1975-1978 and 106 from 1943-46. The Eagles have won 66 games in back-to-back-to-back seasons, which is also the best in EWU's DI history. Eastern won 80 games from 1945 to 1947 and 66 from 1976-78.

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