EWU rallies to beat Idaho at home

Eagles stay undefeated at home despite Harvey’s injury

By Brandon Cline, Staff Writer

Down 13 points to the University of Idaho with 7:31 remaining and the nation’s leading scorer lost to the bench due to injury, no one would have faulted the EWU men’s basketball team if they packed it in early — the cards just were not in their favor on Jan. 31. But EWU rallied late to take down Idaho, 98-95, in overtime.

Through the first 32:29 of the game, EWU shot just 41.7 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from three-point range and were being outrebounded, 33-22. But in the final 7:31 of the second half, EWU connected on 56.3 percent of their field goals and 45.5 percent of their three-point shots.

After Idaho split a pair of free throws that gave them an 86-84 lead, EWU point guard Drew Brandon hit a contested layup as time expired to send the game to overtime. The Eagles erased a Vandals lead that reached 17 points with 8:29 left in the game and an 11-point lead with just 1:21 remaining in regulation.

“Coach and I would talk at every free throw down the stretch about time and situations, and he wanted me to go make a play and I did,” said Brandon, who scored 18 points to go along with 10 assists and nine rebounds.

It was all freshman Bogdan Bliznyuk for the Eagles in overtime, scoring 7 of EWU’s 12 points while finishing the game with 21 points on 9-14 shooting with 15 rebounds.

“We were getting our rear ends killed on the boards, and [Brandon] and [Bliznyuk] went in there and rebounded 2-on-5. We have a freshman with a lot of guts and courage. If he gets 14 rebounds and not 15, then we don’t win. He was big inside for us,” said coach Jim Hayford on the rebounding efforts of Brandon and Bliznyuk.

Senior forward Venky Jois also returned to the court on Saturday after missing three games with a right ankle injury. Jois scored 7 points on 3-4 shooting, but shot only 1-7 from the free-throw line in 23 minutes of playing time. On the defensive end Jois came up big late, blocking Mike Scott’s three-point attempt to end the game.

Not everything to come out of the game was good news, though, as the nation’s leading scorer Tyler Harvey suffered a quad contusion in the first half and missed the last 7:30 of regulation and all of overtime. His status is unclear as EWU hits the road for a pair of games against the University of Montana and Montana State.