I came away impressed with the Eagles' resilience after they split their first Big Sky homestand of the season against Weber State and Northern Arizona. In both games, Jim Hayford's team struggled early, then fought its way back.
True, that wasn't enough to beat preseason favorite Weber, whose point guard Damian Lilliard just won his fourth Big Sky player of the week award of the season after scoring 34 points against EWU and Portland State.
This week Lillard went viral, taking home the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's National Player of the Week award. And while EWU may have contributed to that award, the Eagles held Lillard in check for most of the game, conceding 12 of his 30 points at the foul line.
Against NAU - a game the Eagles needed to stay at .500 in the conference - the Eagles trailed at halftime, but got a boost when forward Collin Chiverton played through pain and sparked a second-half comeback with 10 points in four minutes. Chiverton was the spark, but guard Cliff Colimon was the engine, scoring 22 points while EWU tightened its defense against the dribble penetration of the NAU guards.
Meanwhile, Chiverton may have set a Big Sky record for checking in and out of a game during one half. He seemed fine after the game, but his left foot - injured during the summer and aggravated last minth - promises to be an ongoing story.
After conference games at Sac State and Northern Colorado this week, the Eagles travel to Seattle University on Monday before returning home to play Portland State on Jan. 21.
EWU alum wins national title - The game may have been a snoozer, but former EWU quarterback Jim McElwain drew up the offensive plays that helped Alabama dominate LSU 21-0 last night for the FBS national championship. McElwain, who grew up in Montana and played at Eastern from 1980-83. McElwain has been the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator for four seasons and two national titles; now he takes over as head coach at Colorado State.