Aussies dominate down under the hoop

Forwards Mason Peatling and Jesse Hunt lead EWU scorers


Richard Clark IV

Left: Senior forward Jesse Hunt looks to pass aginast Montana on Jan. 10. Right: Junior forward Mason Peatling shoots a free throw against Montana on Jan. 10. Peatling scored 17 points and Hunt grabbed 15 rebounds in the Eagles’ 78-71 win over the Grizzlies.

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

EWU’s all-time leading scorer Bogdan Bliznyuk dominated the ball and the scoring for the Eagles last year, leaving a 21.2 point per game hole begging to be filled by an emerging star at the start of the 2018 campaign.

Instead, two Australian natives—senior forward Jesse Hunt and junior forward Mason Peatling—have risen to the top of the scoring list, with an emphasis on team and honing their untapped potential.

“We’re trying to fill the void together as a group,” Peatling said. “In Australia you grow up and learn a lot about team basketball and hunting out the best shot for the team. It’s not about one specific guy.”

Peatling missed the first 10 games recovering from an injury, but in the six games since returning to action has averaged a team-high 16.3 points per game. Hunt carried the scoring load with Peatling sidelined, and is still second on the team with 14.3 points per game.

Hunt said that his relationship with Peatling is great, but that they never really had the opportunity to play at the same time prior to this season.

“Last year when I was playing he was hurt and I got hurt when he was playing,” Hunt said. “This year we are trying to work off of each other and I love it. We just get down there and get offensive rebounds and talk all the time during the game.”

Although the Eagles’ season got off to a rough start, going 2-9 in nonconference play and starting Big Sky play 1-3, they may have found a successful formula, most recently beating unanimous preseason favorite Montana 78-71 at home on Jan. 10.

In that game, Peatling scored a team-high 17 points and Hunt dominated the glass grabbing 15 rebounds—six more than any other player from either team.

Head coach Shantay Legans said that the combination of Peatling and Hunt is the team’s strength at the moment.

“With Jesse hitting shots and Mason inside and they can reverse their roles, it’s pretty hard to guard those two players,” Legans said. “When they’re feeding off each other and the other players are feeding off them we’re going to be pretty good.”

Through five conference games, Hunt and Peatling are two of three EWU players to average over 30 minutes per game. Sophomore guard Jacob Davison is averaging 30.8 minutes per game.

Peatling is averaging 18.8 points per conference game and 6.2 rebounds, while Hunt is averaging 11.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per conference game.

The Eagles are ninth in the Big Sky out of 11 teams, and will host Montana State  Saturday, Jan. 19. The Bobcats are tied for first place in the conference with a 4-1 BSC record.

Including Saturday’s contest, EWU still has 15 conference games to improve its record before the Big Sky tournament on March 3.

As they showed against Montana, if Peatling and Hunt find their rhythm they could be poised to knock off any team in the BSC and make a push when the tournament begins.