Eastern Washington hits the road this week with some extra motivation.
The Eagles are coming off their first home loss heading for Flagstaff, Arizona – which also happens to be the site of their most costly defeat in recent years.
Last March, in the final game of the regular season, Eastern needed a win at last-place Northern Arizona to earn a share of the Big Sky Conference title. Instead, the Eagles lost 91-75 to finish second behind North Dakota.
That game has no bearing on this year’s team – provided the Eagles can rebound from a frustrating 58-51 loss to Idaho. Eastern (8-10, 3-2 Big Sky) took an early 14-point lead over the Vandals on Friday but couldn’t find its rhythm in the second half and finished with its second-lowest point total of the season.
“It comes down to our offense,” coach Shantay Legans said. “We slowed down and didn’t play with the same efficiency, speed and pace that we’ve been accustomed to playing as of late. We have to have a good week of practice and get on the road for our next two games.”
On paper this is the easiest road trip on the conference. The game at NAU (3-15, 0-5) is followed by another on Saturday at Southern Utah (7-9, 1-4). Over the past three years, Eastern is 4-2 in Flagstaff and Cedar City.
“You always want to get to your next game,” Legans said. “Especially after a loss, you want to get back out there and face the challenge.”
NAU has only one double-digit scorer in sophomore guard JoJo Anderson, who averages 12.3 points and 2.6 assists. Senior guard Chris Bowling averages 8.9 points.
Eastern senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk continues to move closer to the career scoring record, 47 points behind the mark of 1,803 set from 2013-16 by former teammate Venky Jois.
The Eagles are winning with defense, holding conference opponents to 43.9-percent shooting and 27.7 percent from beyond the 3-point line. EWU has allowed 70.2 points per game in league play, second behind Idaho’s 66.0.
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