Despite being separated by 70 miles, the men’s basketball teams at Washington State and Eastern Washington haven’t met in eight years, not since Ken Bone’s Cougars beat Jim Hayford’s Eagles 88-69 in a 2012 game played at Beasley Coliseum.
The regional foes will renew their series this season in a nonconference game at Spokane Arena, EWU coach Shantay Legans told host Larry Weir in a Thursday edition of The Spokesman-Review’s Press Box podcast.
Legans said the teams signed a contract for the game earlier this week and will play right before Christmas, without announcing a date or time. Neither school has released an official schedule for the 2020-21 season.
“It’s going to be a huge game for us,” Legans said. “I can talk about it because we signed the contract yesterday. It’s going to be a very fun game; we play them right before Christmas. I appreciate them and thank them for giving us a game.”
According to Legans, EWU will also visit WSU for nonconference games in 2021-22 and 2022-23. The Cougars and Eagles haven’t played in three consecutive years since 1996-98. They’ve met just four times since 1998 and WSU has won 22 of the last 23 matchups dating back to 1952. The Cougars lead the all-time series 55-11.
Legans said the Eagles are making it an emphasis to schedule games against teams from the Pacific Northwest, or the West Coast, and revealed a few of the other future games EWU is playing.
“We’ve got a couple teams in the Northwest that we have deals with that we’re hoping we can get these contracts signed and go play,” Legans said. “The games we do have, we do have some on the West Coast, down in California area where we play USC and Saint Mary’s and some other teams we’re in tournaments in that we’re making some good money and have to go back and play. Those are going to be some fun games and they’ll be excited for the fans, they’ll be excited for people to watch and they’ll be excited to play in.”
The Cougars went 16-16 in their first season under coach Kyle Smith, beating Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament to cap a season that was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. If CJ Elleby returns to school for his junior season, WSU will return three starters and most of its bench. A year ago, the Cougars beat the Eagles in a closed-door scrimmage to open the season.
The Eagles went 23-8 in the third year under Legans and were the outright Big Sky Conference champions. Despite losing star senior forward Mason Peatling, EWU will bring back four other starters.
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