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Eastern Washington University Basketball
Sports >  EWU basketball

Eastern Washington sweeps Idaho, returns to top of the Big Sky

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 6, 2021

Eastern Washington’s bench erupts as shots begin to fall for the Eagles during Saturday’s 90-64 Big Sky Conference win over Idaho at Reese Court, the team’s fifth consecutive victory.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington’s bench erupts as shots begin to fall for the Eagles during Saturday’s 90-64 Big Sky Conference win over Idaho at Reese Court, the team’s fifth consecutive victory. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Start slowly, end quickly.

That’s been an inadvertent theme for surging Eastern Washington, which came alive in the second half Saturday to rout rival Idaho 90-64 at Reese Court,

EWU shot 9 for 14 from 3-point range after halftime and had nearly top-to-bottom production, a balanced effort led by Jacob Groves (17 points) and Michael Meadows (16 points, five assists), who reached double figures for the third consecutive game.

The Eagles (8-6, 7-2 Big Sky) won their fifth straight and swept winless Idaho (0-15, 0-12) for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

EWU is now atop the conference standings, sharing the upper echelon with Southern Utah (12-3, 6-2), Weber State (11-4, 6-2) and Montana State (9-5, 6-2).

Montana State hosts EWU next weekend in a key two-game series as the Eagles look to keep their hopes alive for back-to-back Big Sky titles.

“We’re really good when we play fast and play our game,” Groves said. “Our defense was creating for our offense the whole second half.”

EWU, which missed 10 of its first 11 shots, led just 60-55 at the 9:06 mark in the second half before putting the Vandals away.

Idaho had no late answer for the versatile Eagles, which erupted for 30 points in the final 9 minutes.

Steele Venters, Jacob Davison and Tyler Robertson hit consecutive long jumpers to start the telling run.

Idaho coughed up 15 turnovers and was held to 38% shooting (23 for 61) from the field.

EWU hit seven of its 10 second-half 3-pointers in a 94-79 win over Sacramento State on Monday and five of its 11 3-pointers in an 89-74 win over Idaho on Thursday in Moscow.

When the deep jumpers weren’t falling early for EWU on Saturday, it went inside to Groves and brother Tanner Groves (11 points).

EWU went with a guard-heavy lineup in the second half, paving the way to its fourth win in seven days.

“We went to (Jacob Groves) a lot,” head coach Shantay Legans said. “I thought we had an advantage with him on the short block.

“Went with a smaller lineup (in the second half) and hit some open shots.”

Kim Aiken Jr. had 11 rebounds for EWU, which hit 20 of 24 free-throw attempts. Ellis Magnuson added 10 points.

Ja’Vary Christmas led Idaho with 13 points.

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