Eagles break Vandals five-game winning streak

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Photo by Melanie Flint

Eagles celebrate victory on the court.

By Riley Baker, Staff Writer

After losing two in a row on the road, the Eagles returned home to a crowd of 3,262 for a matchup against the Idaho Vandals. EWU was 3-8 on the road and 3-0 at home going into this one.

The Vandals went into the game hot, having won five in a row.

The game was tied, 0-0, for 12 seconds before the Eagles scored and never surrendered the lead. To start the game, EWU made 9 of their first 11 shots to take a commanding early lead.

In the first half the Eagles offense was on fire, making 60 percent of their shots and 10 3-point shots. Guard Julian Harrell, in his first start with the Eagles after transferring from City College of San Francisco, settled in early with three 3-point shots.

“He’s a really good player,” coach Jim Hayford said of Harrell joining the team. “That kind of rounded us off and took away some of the bumps we were hitting.”

The Eagles made 60 percent of their shots from the field and 67 percent from beyond the 3-point line while holding the Vandals to only 33 percent from the field and 17 percent from the 3-point line.

EWU went into the second half with a commanding lead, 46-30.

In the final 20 minutes of the game, the Eagles picked up right where they left off, going on an 8-0 run. EWU continued making 3-pointers and putting pressure on the Idaho offense.

With 1:01 left in the game, the Vandals cut the Eagles’ lead to 11 – the shortest of the game – before it went final with the score of 74-60.

The Eagles played well on defense, holding Idaho to just a 31 percent field goal mark and a 20 percent mark from the 3-point line.

“We’ve really been challenging our team to step up defensively,” said Hayford. “I was really pleased with how we played.”
Hayford had to have been pleased with how the offense played as well, shooting at a 53 percent mark from the field and 52 percent from the 3-point line.

“We ran our offense well and shot over 50 percent,” said Hayford. “We knew with their defense we had to make outside shots and we did that.”

As a team, EWU controlled both ends of the court. The Eagles hit 15 3-point shots and had 11 turnovers.

Guard Austin McBroom had a monster game with 26 points and seven assists. He was 6-10 on 3-point attempts and played 39 of the 40 minutes in the game.

Forward Felix Von Hofe had 19 points, making five from beyond the 3-point line.

Harrell scored 14 points, 10 of which came in the first half.

Forward Venky Jois scored nine total points, going a perfect 4-4. Jois also had four blocked shots on defense to give him 212 career blocks, moving him into second on the Big Sky Conference career leaders list.

The Eagles have two more home games before hitting the road again, giving the team some well-needed rest.

“This really gives us three weeks to concentrate on ourselves, get better and coach our guys up,” said Hayford. “Hopefully we can defend our home court against two good teams next week.”

The Eagles will take on Southern Utah University on Jan. 14 at 6:05 p.m. at Reese Court.