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Sports >  EWU basketball

Eastern Washington accepts invitation to The Basketball Classic, will begin postseason against Fresno State

UPDATED: Mon., March 14, 2022

Eastern Washington teammates help up Ethan Price during a game against Northern Arizona on March 3 in Cheney.  (Courtesy EWU Athletics)
Eastern Washington teammates help up Ethan Price during a game against Northern Arizona on March 3 in Cheney. (Courtesy EWU Athletics)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

As it turned out, its loss in the Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals was not the end of the season for the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team.

The Eagles accepted an invitation to play in The Basketball Classic and will visit Fresno State in the first round at 7 p.m. Thursday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

“Down the stretch they started reaching out and seeing if we were interested in a backup plan,” EWU coach David Riley said. “I knew it was a great opportunity.”

Eastern (18-15) will be one of four Big Sky teams playing in a postseason tournament, joining Montana State (27-7), Northern Colorado (20-15) and Southern Utah (20-11).

Montana State won the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and is a No. 14 seed. The Bobcats will face No. 3 seed Texas Tech.

Northern Colorado, which eliminated Eastern in the Big Sky Tournament, is the No. 12 seed in the 16-team College Basketball Invitational.

Southern Utah will also participate in The Basketball Classic and is scheduled to play Kent State in the first round.

The Basketball Classic isn’t structured like the NCAA bracket; rather, matchups are set after each round. Elsewhere in the field are the Portland Pilots, coached by former EWU head coach Shantay Legans.

Even if the Eagles’ primary goal was to reach the NCAA Tournament, Riley said he and the players were glad to continue their season.

“They earned this, to go to a postseason tournament,” Riley said.

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