The season isn’t over for Eastern Washington and Idaho, who fell short of the NCAAs at last week’s Big Sky Tournament.
Both will play this week in the College Basketball Invitational, a 16-team event that also includes Big Sky rival Montana.
For the Eagles, Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game against Pepperdine at Reese Court will mark several milestones. A final home game will serve as a sendoff for senior Venky Jois, the Eagles’ career scoring leader and only the third player in Big Sky history to record at least 1,600 points and 900 rebounds.
“The most important part of it is that the all-time leading scorer in Eastern Washington history is going to get to play again – it’s awesome,” said Hayford, who will coach his 500th collegiate game.
“Five hundred is a lot of games,” Hayford said. “My first thought, other than being surprised, is that 500 games is a ton of game-day stress to have to endure. But it mainly gives me true joy because I’ve been fortunate to coach with great people and have enjoyed incredible relationships with so many outstanding players.”
Eastern is 17-15 after losing to Idaho in the Big Sky Tournament in Reno, Nevada.
Pepperdine, a West Coast Conference rival of Gonzaga’s, is in its second straight CBI after going 18-13 under fifth-year coach Marty Wilson.
Idaho is in the postseason for the first time since 2011-12. The Vandals will travel for their opening-round game, taking on Seattle on Wednesday.
The Vandals are 20-11, marking the first time since the 1992-93 season that an Idaho squad won 20 games. Idaho lost to Montana last week in the Big Sky semifinals.
Last season, Seattle advanced to the semifinals of the CBI before falling to eventual champion Loyola-Chicago.
Montana also is on the road: The Griz play at Nevada on Wednesday.
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