Eastern will meet Seton Hall, UConn

Big Sky Conference basketball play is around the corner, but Eastern Washington is going out of its way to get in two more tune-up games.

The Eagles (5-4) will play at Seton Hall on Sunday, then spend Christmas in New England before taking on 10th-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 28. Five days after that, Eastern will open conference play at Weber State.

“The East Coast trip jumps out at you,” Eastern coach Jim Hayford said. “It is an excellent opportunity for our guys to see a different part of the country and to experience playing against one of the nation’s elite programs.”

Seton Hall is 7-4 following an 83-80 loss in overtime to Saint Peter’s, which snapped the Pirates’ three-game winning streak.  Connecticut finished 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East last season, while Seton Hall was 15-18 overall and 3-15 in the league.

Seton Hall and six other teams in the so-called “Catholic 7” broke off from the league, but retained the Big East tag. The remaining Big East teams, plus others, are now in the new American Athletic Conference.

Seton Hall has four players averaging in double figures, led by 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Sterling Gibbs with an average of 16.1 points and 4.0 assists per game.

“As we enter Big Sky play it is going to be tough,” Hayford said. “We just need to keep getting better. It is a long season.”

The Eagles’ next home game is Jan. 9 against Montana.

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