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Eastern Washington University Basketball

Eastern Washington outlasts Weber State 89-82 to extend win streak to 18, clinch outright Big Sky championship

Eastern Washington guard Tyreese Davis posts up a Weber State defender during a game in Ogden, Utah on Thursday.  (Courtesy Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

The nation’s longest active Division I winning streak still belongs to the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team after it beat Weber State 89-82 on Thursday in Ogden, Utah.

The Eagles’ 18-game streak is tied for the longest one within a season by any Big Sky team , matching that of Weber State’s 1979-80 team. The Eagles also became the first Big Sky team to start a conference season 16-0, topping Weber State’s 15-0 mark in 1968-69.

With two games to go, the Eagles (22-7 overall) have secured the conference’s regular-season title outright and the No. 1 seed in the Big Sky Tournament, which begins March 4 in Boise.

Sophomore Casey Jones scored a career-high 25 points and became the Eagles’ seventh player to score at least 20 points in a game this season.

“Hats off to Weber,” EWU coach David Riley said in a postgame radio interview. “They had a clear game plan to try to make someone else beat them, and it was Casey to start the game. He got some clean looks early and started knocking down some 3s.”

Jones scored 12 points by halftime, when the Eagles trailed 43-41. Both teams shot better than 53% in the first half.

“It was one of the best offensive halves I’ve been a part of, for both sides,” Riley said. “But our guys found a way to buckle down in the second half.”

The Eagles opened the second half on a 20-8 run to give themselves a 61-50 lead.

After making 8 of 16 3-point attempts in the first half, the Wildcats missed all 10 attempts in the second. Eastern continued to shoot well and finished 54.7% from the field – their 11th game this conference season making more than half their shot attempts – and sank 13 of 23 3-pointers, their best percentage (56.5) of the season.

Weber State got back within five points twice, 71-66 and then 77-72 on a runner in the lane by Zahir Porter with 1:56 left.

But EWU’s Cedric Coward made a tough layup inside the next trip down, Dillon Jones missed a layup on Weber’s next possession, and Angelo Allegri made a deep 3 to get Eastern’s lead back to 10 points with 51 seconds remaining.

Jones led the Wildcats in points (21), rebounds (nine), assists (five) and turnovers (four).

The senior Allegri finished with 15 points, redshirt sophomore Steele Venters added 18 while going 4 for 7 from 3-point range, and redshirt junior Tyreese Davis totaled 10 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Eagles.

The Eagles had 20 assists and 10 turnovers, their fewest in three games.

“Our team takes a lot of pride in playing together,” Riley said. “When we do that, the ball has energy.”

Weber State (15-14, 10-6) is still third place in the Big Sky standings, three games behind Montana State (20-9, 13-3), which visits Eastern Washington on Monday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

First, though, the Eagles will play at Idaho State on Saturday. The Bengals (10-19, 7-9) are fifth in conference standings after defeating Idaho 66-65 on Thursday in Pocatello.

“Idaho State, ever since (head coach Ryan) Looney’s been there, has given us trouble,” Riley said. “It’s a very opposite style of how we play. They’re a tough, physical team.”