Late rally not enough, (13) Eagles fall to (4) Hoyas


Anna Mills

Tyler Harvey driving against a Georgetown defender

By Fetlew Gebreziabher, Online Sports Editor

The music stops and the dancing comes to an end for the Eastern Washington Eagles men’s basketball team.

EWU’s season came to an end after an 84-74 loss to the no. 4 seeded Georgetown Hoyas in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday night.

Seeded at no. 13 seeded, the Eagles were down by as much as 23 points in the second half, but a late rally that brought them within eight was not enough to beat the Hoyas.

“Congratulations to Georgetown. They’re a very good team. The difference tonight was how they shot the ball and how we shot the ball. We needed a really good shooting night to beat them. We didn’t bring it,” said head coach Jim Hayford after the game.“That probably needs to be a credit to them for their defense. Those are some long guys that you’re shooting over, and they play very smart. I give them full credit. We didn’t lose tonight; they beat us. You saw my team has great character, great fight. We played it down till the end. I’m just really proud.”

Eastern’s largest lead was seven points in the first half for eight minutes. The Hoyas took the lead, 29-28, then went on a 24-17 run to end the half and never looked back.

“They play hard. They play really hard. I’m glad we were playing basketball. I wouldn’t want to wrestle or play football against them,” said Hayford. “I think they were intense. I think their coaching staff let them know — they were ready to play the first round. I mean, they were intense. They were tough. Those guys are tough.”

The Eagles open the second half trailing 43-33, and momentum continued to favor the Hoyas.

Georgetown went on to score two quick baskets to extend their lead 47-33, until junior forward Venky Jois scored EWU’s first basket at the 17:12 mark to make it 47-35.

The Eagles would not score again until the 13:02 mark to end the Hoyas 11-0 run to make it 58-37. It was EWU’s largest deficit of the game.

“Georgetown, they’re a really big team. We don’t have those kinds of teams in the Big Sky. But they’re really long,” said junior guard Tyler Harvey. “They’re aggressive on defense. We got a couple open looks. Just didn’t go down for us. They’re a really long team. You’ve got to hit shots against them.”

The nations leading scorer lead all scores with 27 points on 9 of 20 shooting, 6 of 12 from deep.

The Eagles, who average 40 percent from the three-point line during the season, shot just 32 percent on 9 of 28 against Georgetown.

The Hoyas big bodies on defense made it difficult for the Eagles shooters to get shots off.

“In the post, you’re facing 6- foot-10 athletic guys you don’t see in the Big Sky. It’s just a different look. You know, I really don’t think we couldn’t have scored against them, I think we did in spurts,” said Jois.  “Like coach said, it was just a matter of we needed to shoot really well. Credit to them, they stopped us.”

EWU shot 40 percent from the field compared to the Hoyas’ 52 percent. Georgetown, who shot 35 percent from the three during the regular season, shot 48 percent against the Eagles.

Coach Hayford was asked if he regrets making his comment the previous day about guaranteeing an Eagles win.  “No, not at all. I don’t think that motivated them. I wouldn’t have wanted to play this team without my team having full confidence.”

The Eagles finished their season with a record of 26-9, capping one of the best seasons in school history.