Men’s basketball sweeps Montana schools


Anna Mills

Drew Brandon during a home game versus Northern Colorado

By Elohino Theodore, Senior Reporter

The EWU men’s basketball team competed against Montana and Montana State on the road on Feb. 5 and 7.

Eastern’s first test on their quick, two-game road trip was against the University of Montana. The Eagles defeated the Grizzlies, 75-69, without their leading scorer, junior guard Tyler Harvey, due to a quadricep contusion. This victory snapped a 12-game losing streak against Montana on the road.

Senior guard Drew Brandon talked about the Eagles’ losing streak at Montana.

“I haven’t been here as long as these other guys, but I know it’s tough to win at that place,” said Brandon. “And we showed a lot of heart and toughness to grind out a win against a very good team.”

Head coach Jim Hayford told about the determination of the team before the game.

“Without [Harvey], the team said we were going to take on this challenge on the road,” said Hayford. “We wanted to show Montana that we can guard too. We did what we had to do to win a big game on the road.”

The Eagles got started quickly in the game. Eastern led up until the 4:20 mark in the first half, Montana ended up leading by two points, 24-22. Eastern managed to get back on top at the 1:58 mark with a jump shot by junior forward Venky Jois. Brandon knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:12 remaining to give the Eagles a halftime lead, 33-29.

In the beginning of the second half, Eastern made two 3-pointers, to lead 39-34. The Eagles led for nine minutes, until the Grizzlies tied the game, 49-49, with 12:24 remaining. EWU, soon after, went on a quick 7-0 run to lead 59-52 with 9:34 remaining in the game. Eastern’s largest lead in the second half was nine points, 69-60.

Eastern led throughout the rest of the second half and earned the victory with free throws from Brandon and Jois. The Eagles shot 51 percent for the game while scoring 22 points in the paint. Eastern also shot 45.8 percent behind the 3-point line.

With Harvey’s absence, Brandon took over the scoring duties by matching his career-high with 27 points. He also had six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“When I saw opportunities to score, I took them,” said Brandon. “And [Montana was] leaning out on other shooters, which is why I had the lanes and the space to take more shots in this game.”

Sophomore forward Felix Von Hofe finished with 12 points. Jois had 12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and four steals.

Eastern defeated Montana State, 61-51, to finish an overall sweep against the two Montana Universities.

“We came in here and gutted it out,” Hayford told “We held them to 32 percent shooting in the game.”

It was a close game throughout the first half. Montana State was within three to six points until the 7:43 mark when Eastern increased their lead to nine points, 22-13.

Near the end of the first half, Montana State cut into Eastern’s lead with four minutes remaining. At halftime the Eagles led by one, 35-34.

In the second half, EWU went on a 17-3 run after being down by eight points to lead 54-48. The Eagles held Montana State to 17 points in the second half and 20 percent shooting.

Eastern ended up getting the victory by holding the Bobcats to only six points in the final minutes of the game.

Brandon finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Jois had 13 points and six rebounds. Sophomore forward Ognjen Miljkovic had 11 points and five rebounds.

EWU will compete against Sacramento State at home on Feb. 12.