Defense Trending Upwards as Eagles Sweep Home Stand

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Abbi Vance for The Easterner

EWU MBB dominated at home last weekend, winning by 22 and 15 points in their two games

By Riley Baker, Staff Reporter

After a home sweep of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah this weekend, EWU improved to a 5-2 record in the Big Sky Conference (BSC), the third-best record of the 12 teams in the conference.

While both opposing teams have now combined for only three wins in conference play, the Eagles took advantage of the opportunity  and played a pair of well-rounded games. In the two games combined, EWU allowed a shooting rate of 37.5 percent, while shooting 52.8 percent themselves – over 15 percent better than their opposition.

This Eagle team is firing on all cylinders right now, especially at home. In their four conference home games, EWU is averaging 77 points per game. But even more impressive, they are only allowing an average of 65 points per game.

“We’re a pretty good shot blocking team and we blocked ten tonight [versus Southern Utah],” said head coach Jim Hayford. “We’re not just playing one-on-one defense, but we’re playing really good team defense and it’s getting better every week.”

Abbi Vance for The Easterner

The Eagles faced the BSC leading scorer Randy Onwuasor on Jan. 21,  who came into the game averaging 23.3 points per game. Although he still accounted for 22 points in the game, he had to earn them as EWU held him scoreless from the 3-point line.

“I think we’re doing a really good job with the scouting report and focusing with our preparation and being ready,” said junior Bogdan Bliznyuk. “A lot of credit to our coaching staff.”

After a tough loss to Weber State on the road last week, the Eagles certainly came to play this week to keep pace in the Big Sky standings and inch their way up.

“Offensively, we got a little better,” said Hayford. “Then we amped up our defensive pressure and forced more turnovers and beat them on the boards … We’ve played some tough ones lately. We’ll enjoy this and then move on.”

EWU will hit the road to take on Montana Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. The game can be heard live on 700-AM ESPN.