The outlook for Eastern Washington this week? Guarded.
The Eagles are on the road this week at Idaho State and Weber State, teams that feature two of the best guards in the Big Sky Conference and also are picked ahead of EWU in the preseason polls.
On Thursday night in Pocatello, ISU senior Ethan Telfair will test the Eagles on with averages of 16.6 points, 4.9 assists and a league-leading 2.7 steals per game.
On Saturday, it’s Weber’s Jeremy Senglin, who’s third in the league in scoring with a 20.4 average and leads the nation in 3-pointers made, with 4.3 a game.
“Both teams have great guards that will play professional basketball,” Eastern coach Jim Hayford said. “We will have our hands full.”
In hitting the road, the Eagles also must move on from last Saturday’s 65-59 home loss to Montana, which dropped them to 10-6 overall and out of a first-place tie in the Big Sky.
The Eagles are 2-1 against their first five league opponents – all of which were picked above them in the preseason coaches’ poll. A year ago, EWU was 1-6 against those same five teams.
“As a staff we looked at the first five games of the conference season as a great challenge,” Hayford said.
ISU (0-2 Big Sky) is 2-12 overall and against a difficult schedule, but the Bengals were picked fifth in the preseason. A year ago, Telfair scored 31 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the Bengals’ 75-71 win over EWU in Cheney. He also had seven rebounds, seven assists and a pair of steals.
Preseason favorite and defending champ Weber (7-6, 2-0) was picked to repeat as league champions in both polls. Senglin, also a senior guard, has averaged 14.0 points, four rebounds and 2.7 assists in three career games against EWU, making 7 of 16 3-point attempts.
Eastern is leading the Big Sky in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 63.7 points per game.
Eastern is the top 3-point-shooting team in league games (.474) and has the second-best shooting percentage overall (.497).
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