CEDAR CITY, Utah – Venky Jois contributed a career-high 29 points with 13 rebounds and Tyler Harvey scored 26 as Eastern Washington, which has won five of their last six games, kept Southern Utah winless in the Big Sky Conference, winning 85-74 Saturday.
EWU (13-13, 8-7) got out of the gate quickly, running up a 19-5 score after Drew Brandon’s layup just 6 1/2 minutes in. But Southern Utah (1-24, 0-16) went on a 7-0 run a few minutes later – with five points coming from John Marshall – and the Thunderbirds clawed their way back to trail 38-34 at the break.
Marshall made a pair of free throws with 8:58 left to cut the SUU deficit to three, but the Eagles went on a 9-0 run, hitting 5 of 6 free throws, to push their lead back to 12 and kept Southern Utah at arm’s length the rest of the way.
“We showed offensive patience and good execution,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “For us to shoot only six 3s in each half shows we are maturing. We had great shots on our possesions and it resulted in a really good win.”
Eric Rippetoe led SUU with 17 points while Casey Oliverson added 16.
“They are really young. I think I was told they are the 10th-youngest team in America,” added Hayford regarding the Thunderbirds. “We went through that last year and were 7-13, but I can’t imagine what 1-24 feels like. But they play hard all the way to the very last second, so we’re very, very grateful for the win against a team playing very hard and playing with great character. I tip my hat to Southern Utah.”