EWU men’s basketball falls short in defensive battle to Idaho


The Eagles huddle during the team’s loss to Idaho on Jan. 12. EWU is now 3-2 in Big Sky play and 8-10 overall. | Richard Clark IV for The Easterner

By Michael Brock, Sports Editor

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hot you start.

On Jan. 12, the EWU men’s basketball team lost to the University of Idaho 58-51, despite a 20-6 early lead. The Eagles opened the game 8-of-13 from the field, with senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk contributing nine points to the team’s run.

From there, the Vandals went on a 10-0 spurt of their own to narrow the gap. The rest of the opening frame was back-and-forth, and EWU held a 27-25 halftime advantage.

Idaho came out of the break and pressured the Eagles into a couple turnovers, taking the slight lead in the process. For the next several minutes, each team traded blows, with sophomore forward Mason Peatling tying the score at 36-36.

That’s when Idaho went on a 16-5 run to break open the game. The Eagles made a late rally to pull closer but it was too late.

Following the loss, head coach Shantay Legans commented on the Vandals’ defense. “I give them all the credit,” Legans said. “They came in with a great game plan and they stuck to it […] Their zone and their 1-2-2 press gave us a little bit of a problem. We have to be a little bit more aggressive and I have to do a better job getting guys prepared for that.”

EWU opened the game shooting 8-of-13 from the field (61.5 percent). For the rest of the contest, they connected on 12-of-42 (28.6 percent) of their attempts.

Bliznyuk finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists, but connected on just 5-of-14 from the field after the hot start. No other Eagles scored in double figures, with junior guard Ty Gibson and freshman guard Jack Perry combining to shoot 5-of-20 overall and 4–of-15 from three.

“They put us on our heels a little bit in the second half, and that kind of threw our timing off a little bit,” said Legans. “We rushed some of our shots—we usually make those threes.”

Idaho senior guard Victor Sanders had 18 points and nine rebounds, despite shooting just 6-of-14. Sophomore guard Trevon Allen and senior forward Brayon Blake joined Sanders in double figures with 12 and 11 points respectively.

Neither team shot well from three, however Idaho had 17 free throw attempts compared to just two for EWU. The Vandals got 21 points from their bench and 14 on fast break, both single digit categories for the Eagles.

“These types of games obviously hurt, but you can’t let them hold you back,” said Bliznyuk. “There’s valuable lessons in tough losses like these, so we’ve got to learn those individually and as a team and just prepare for the next game.”

Up next for EWU is a pair of road contests against Northern Arizona (Jan. 18) and Southern Utah (Jan. 20).