Eagles defend home court against rival Grizzlies


Bailey Monteith

Sophomore guard Jacob Davison drives on a Montana defender in Thursday’s 78-71. Davison recorded 11 points and was one of five Eagles to score in the double digits.

By Michael Brock, Editor in Chief

Sometimes all it takes is a rivalry game to get back on track.

After opening the Big Sky Conference slate 1-3, the EWU men’s basketball team took down Montana 78-71 on Thursday night at Reese Court.

The Grizzlies (10-6, 3-2) went on an early run and led by as many as 11 in the first half, however the Eagles (4-12, 2-3) closed the frame on a 15-1 burst to go up 32-29. Junior forward Mason Peatling, junior guard Tyler Kidd and sophomore guard Jack Perry paced the team with six points in the half.

EWU never trailed in the second half, despite Montana cutting the lead to one possession seven different times. In fact, the Eagles were the next team to score each time it happened.

Peatling led the Eagles with 17 points, even though he played only 20 minutes after picking up three fouls in the first half. Sophomore guard Jacob Davison, freshman forward Kim Aiken, Kidd and Perry all scored in double figures, while senior forward Jesse Hunt had eight points and 15 boards.

Three Grizzlies combined for 51 of the team’s 71 points. Montana shot 48.2 percent for the game, but just 4-19 (21.1 percent) from downtown.

“When Montana’s not making a lot of those threes, we can start sinking in a little bit and slowing down their big fella whose averaging about 20 points a game,” head coach Shantay Legans said after the win. “It was a big emphasis of not giving those guys open looks.”

Montana’s “big fella” Legans was talking about—6’8 senior Jamar Akoh—was held to eight points and two rebounds while battling foul trouble.

EWU, which came in shooting 38.9 percent from the field on the season, made 48.0 percent of their attempts and 9-17 (52.9 percent) from 3-point range.

Last year, the two teams met in the championship game of the Big Sky Conference tournament and Montana came back to win 82-65. In the regular season, the Eagles beat the Grizzlies 74-65 on Feb. 15 in Cheney. The Grizzlies had only one player graduate from last season’s 26-8 squad—bringing back over 86 percent of their scoring. The Eagles lost a trio of seniors, including league MVP Bogdan Bliznyuk.

The Eagles now have eight full days off before next game, the second longest stretch of the season. They play Montana State (7-8, 4-1) on Jan. 19 in Cheney.

“We’ll get guys rest,” said Legans of the week-plus break. “And we’ll get in the gym. We’re going to shore up a couple things defensively. Offensively, we don’t need to change a lot—I think we have enough in.”