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Twice the fun: Eastern Washington, Idaho meet in basketball doubleheader

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 11, 2018

The idea was so good, Wendy Schuller wondered why they hadn’t done it sooner.

“It’s exciting,” said Schuller, whose Eastern Washington women’s basketball team will play Idaho in the first game of a doubleheader Friday at Reese Court.

The fun starts with the women’s tipoff at 5 p.m. The men will follow at about 7:30 p.m. The Eagles and Vandals will do it again on Feb. 9 in Moscow.

Added Schuller: “It’s great for the teams, great for the university and I think it’s going to be a rockin’ house on Friday.”

Certainly there will be subplots aplenty in both games. Big Sky Conference men’s preseason favorite Idaho is 2-2 in league play, and it might have been worse but for a last-minute win over Sacramento State last week.

“They’re talented and they have really good coaching,” EWU men’s coach Shantay Legans said.

The Eagles, picked for seventh, are off to a 3-1 start that doesn’t surprise Legans.

“A lot of teams picked us to be seventh in the league and that’s something our guys talk about in the locker room,” Legans said. “We want to come out and play, and beat teams. It’s a little bit of motivation but we don’t need that much because we are at home.”

Home or away, the Eagles have found their shooting touch, hitting at least 50 percent from the field in four of their last six games. Forward Bogdan Bliznyuk, who is closing on the EWU career scoring record, is leading the way with 18.5 points and 6.3 points for the season.

Idaho counters with Victor Sanders, who’s coming off a 28-point effort in a home loss to Portland State. That game moved Sanders (19.6 ppg) into fifth on the career scoring list.

“We just have to guard him and see what we can do with him,” Legans said. “We have to stick to our defensive principles.”

Eastern faces the same challenge in the women’s game against Idaho guard Mikayla Ferenz, who won her second straight Big Sky player of the week award after scoring 72 points against Sac State and PSU.

The junior from Walla Walla ranks fourth in the nation with a 23.2 scoring average, with 30 or more points in three of her last four games.

Both women’s teams are 2-2 in Big Sky play.

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