Men’s basketball falls just short of postseason

By Josh Friesen, Sports Editor

Photo by: Aaron MalmoeFreshman forward Venky Jois was recently awarded Big Sky Freshman of the Year for his breakout performance for the Eagles this season.
Photo by: Aaron Malmoe
Freshman forward Venky Jois was recently awarded Big Sky Freshman of the Year for his breakout performance for the Eagles this season.


The Eagles just could not muster up enough luck to get into the postseason.

It was a week that required both wins by the Eagle men and luck to get into the Big Sky tournament. Things fell into place for the Eagles when they soundly beat Idaho State on March 7, followed by two key losses by other Big Sky teams on the same day.

On March 9, Eastern needed to win against Weber State and have three other teams lose in order to advance to the Big Sky Conference tournament. Heading into the game on March 9 against the Wildcats, the Eagles’ chances of making the playoffs were already gone due to a Montana State win and a Southern Utah loss earlier in the day.

That did not stop Eastern from battling to try to win their final game of the season, ultimately falling to Weber State 65-57.

The Eagles drew first blood on a layup by sophomore Martin Seiferth, but that was the only lead they held. Weber State charged back and twice led by 11 points in the first half. Things seemed bleak as Seiferth went down early in the game with a hip pointer. However, the Eagles refused to give up. Led by freshman Tyler Harvey’s 11 first half points, the Eagles got to within a point during the 4:06 mark before heading into halftime with only a five-point deficit.

The Eagles and Wildcats traded punches in the second half where the Eagles held them to only 43.5 percent from the field. Weber State came into the game leading the nation in 3-point field goal percentage and overall field goal percentage.

The Eagles never trailed by more than eight points, but they were only able to come within one point of tying.

“Credit Weber State’s defense,” said men’s head basketball coach Jim Hayford. “We did everything we could to try to manufacture baskets. I thought we executed a really, really good game plan. To hold the nation’s top shooting team to 40 percent showed how far we’ve grown defensively.”

At the 6:05 mark, a dunk by Eastern freshman Venky Jois got the Eagles to within one, but Weber State’s Scott Bamforth scored five consecutive points to give the Wildcats a six-point edge until there was 2:55 remaining.
Bamforth scored another five points in the waning minutes to effectively shut down any hopes of an Eagle comeback.

“That’s what great players do. He came up big down the stretch,” said Hayford. “They were all contested shots, so give Bamforth credit. That’s why he deserves all the honors and recognition he gets. He was the difference maker down the stretch.”

Harvey led all Eagles with 17 points, and Jois had 10. Harvey added eight rebounds, second on the team only to Jois’ nine. The Eagles fielded their 14th different starting lineup, mostly due to injuries. Many of the players who started included several freshmen and sophomores.

“It just shows how far we’ve grown,” said Hayford. “I felt like we got better every week, and we played one of our best games of the season against Weber State. … I’m really, really proud of our team.”