I just got off the phone with Eastern Washington’s head men’s basketball coach Kirk Earlywine, who called to let me know the story I wrote following the Eagles’ 68-62 overtime loss to Portland State in last Saturday’s regular-season final in Cheney was not factually correct.
In the game story I filed, I noted how the four seniors making their final appearance at Reese Court had succeeded in extending their season — but only for five minutes, which was how long it took to play the extra period.
It turns out, that wasn’t the case.
As part of our phone conversation, an obviously excited Earlywine informed me the Eagles have actually extended their season beyond the overtime period against the Vikings by agreeing to travel to Moraga, Calif., to take on West Coast Conference power Saint Mary’s College next Friday in a game that will tip off at 7:05 p.m. at the Gaels’ McKeon Pavilion.
You can read more details by following this link to the story posted just a short time ago on EWU’s athletics website, and you check back here later on this afternoon for a look at the unedited versioin of the story I’m working on for Saturday morning’s S-R.
In any event, Earlywine said both he and his players are excited about the opportunity play another game, noting that both EWU and Saint Mary’s — due to different schedule exemptions — have an additional came they can play before reachign the NCAA limit.
“The players were all excited,” Earlywine explained. “That was one of the contingencies I had placed on playing the game, was that everybody had to be on board with it. Obviously, the seniors are getting to play another game in their careers and can’t wait, but the only way we were going to do it was if everybody wanted to commit to having me on their asses for another week of practice.
“I wasn’t sure they would, but they all agreed. I want us to take this opportunity seriously and not go down there and play half-assed, like it was an exhibition.”
Saint Mary’s (24-5) is currently sitting as the No. 2 seed, behind regular-season champion Gonzaga, in the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. The Gaels, like Gonzaga, have a bye into Sunday’s semifinals and would seem to be a lock for a NIT berth if they don’t make it to the NCAAs.
According to Earlywine, the Gaels were looking for another game to better prepare for whatever teh postseason might bring, now that their standout point guard Patrick Mills has returned after missing nine games with a broken hand.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like this before,” Earlywine added, “but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.”