Men’s basketball pulls a victory in Sacramento


Photo contributed by

Venky Jois drives to the hole.

By Grace Pohl, Staff Writer

The men’s basketball team traveled to Sacramento, California, to play in the post-Thanksgiving Sacramento State Basketball Invitational against the University of the Pacific and University of North Dakota. This tournament is expected to be played in Cheney next season.

The Eagles entered the invitational with a 2-2 record after splitting a home and away series with Seattle University. They ended up leaving Sacramento with a 3-3 record after a win over Pacific followed up by a loss against South Dakota.

It was a nail-biting game against Pacific as the Eagles pulled away late in the second half for a 70-63 win. The Eagles started the game on a 14-6 run and four Eagles ended the night scoring double digits.

Free throws became a crucial part of the game in the second half as the Eagles were 9 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes of the game. The game was tied six different times and featured eight lead changes in the second half alone.

Guard Austin McBroom led the Eagles with 20 points, a season-high for the graduate transfer. McBroom was 10 of 10 from the free-throw line and was credited with four steals. The other top performer was forward Venky Jois who had 16 points and seven rebounds. Forward Bogdan Bliznyuk nearly had a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds.

“As a coach that’s what you want to see – you want to see your team get better every night out and we did that,” said head coach Jim Hayford. “We’ll take it. This is a good day when you play a West Coast Conference team and can get a win. It’s good for our conference and good for our program.”

Eastern’s second game against South Dakota was a tough and close loss with the final score of 77-71. The Eagles led the game for the majority of the first half, but toward the end the tides turned in favor of South Dakota.

South Dakota’s defense only let Eastern’s Jois shoot three times, but he was able to make all three and still have seven assists, which also equals his career high. South Dakota made 18 out of 21 free-throws while the Eagles only made 7 out of 11.

Forward Bogdan Bliznyuk was the leading scorer for the Eagles with 16 points, shooting 6 of 12 from the field. McBroom had another high scoring game with 11 points and entered the game ranked 21st in NCAA Division I in minutes played, averaging 36.6 minutes per game.

“It was tied up at the last media timeout, but they came down and got one of their few three-pointers on the night,” Hayford said. “We had a chance to tie it back up, but we missed a great wide-open look that just didn’t fall. They got it back up to a two-possession game and then we couldn’t pull it back in.”

The Eagles played on Dec. 1 against University of San Francisco at San Francisco. Their next home game will be on Dec. 6 against University of Great Falls, one of only two home games in the month of December.