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Viral sensations: Eastern Washington basketball plays catch nation’s attention

UPDATED: Mon., Dec. 16, 2019

Neil Everett, a Spokane native and Lewis and Clark High graduate, has been on the call for two of the three Eastern Washington basketball Top 10 moments on ESPN’s SportsCenter. (ESPN Images)
Neil Everett, a Spokane native and Lewis and Clark High graduate, has been on the call for two of the three Eastern Washington basketball Top 10 moments on ESPN’s SportsCenter. (ESPN Images)

Eastern Washington basketball went viral again.

For the third time in nine months, EWU made an appearance on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays of the Day” segment and also generated hundreds of thousands of views on popular sports websites and social media accounts.

When Shadle Park High graduate Tanner Groves extended his 6-foot-10 frame and put down a thundering putback dunk on a pair of Multnomah defenders in the Eagles’ 146-89 rout of the NAIA Division II school on Friday, the WorldWide Leader elevated the play to No. 1 on the popular daily list.

Longtime ESPN sportscaster and Seattle native Kenny Mayne was on the call.

“Emphatic dunk,” said Mayne, before reciting a popular line from the 1992 movie, “White Men Can’t Jump,” as Groves celebrated his dunk in old-school, raise-the-roof fashion.

“We’re going to Sizzler!”

Spokane native and Lewis and Clark High graduate Neil Everett – another popular ESPN sportscaster – was on the call in March when the EWU women’s basketball team advanced to its first Big Sky Tournament title game in 31 years courtesy of a tricky, heads-up play by point guard Jessica McDowell-White.

The sixth-seeded Eagles upset No. 2 seed and defending champion Northern Colorado 59-57 when McDowell-White purposely inbounded the ball off the backside of an unsuspecting Northern Colorado player in the final seconds, gathered up the ball under the basket and scored the winning bucket.

It was the No. 9 play on Sports Center.

“They’re partying in Cheney,” Everett said.

EWU made its first SportsCenter appearance of the year when freshman Kim Aiken Jr. buried a game-winning 3-pointer to beat Portland State 68-66 on March 2 at Reese Court.

Aiken Jr. hit the the game-winning jumper from the corner as time expired, beating the Vikings in a key conference game and earning ESPN’s No. 6 play of the day.

EWU men host Omaha

Before EWU faces second-ranked Gonzaga on Saturday at McCarthey Athletic Center – the first meeting between the schools since 2011 – the Eagles (6-3) play host to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (6-7) on Tuesday.

EWU’s penultimate nonconference game features an Omaha team that beat Washington State 85-77 at the Cayman Islands Classic.

Omaha, picked fourth in the nine-team Summit League preseason coaches poll, has dropped four of its last five games, including a 73-65 loss to Big Sky member Northern Arizona.

The Mavericks won 21 games last season and advanced to the Summit League Tournament championship game.

Senior guard J.T. Gibson leads Omaha with 14.2 points per game.

EWU is led by its Big 3: guard Jacob Davison (18.8 ppg) and forwards Aiken (15.3 ppg, 12 rpg) and Mason Peatling (15.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg).

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