EWU men’s hoops on a roll, enter Big Sky Tournament as No. 3 seed

Sophomore+guard+Jacob+Davison+admires+a+shot+in+EWU%27s+88-78+win+over+Northern+Colorado+on+Feb.+16.+Davison+suffered+a+high+ankle+sprain+in+the+game+against+the+Bears+and+is+doubtful+to+return+for+the+Big+Sky+Conference+Tournament.
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EWU men’s hoops on a roll, enter Big Sky Tournament as No. 3 seed

Sophomore guard Jacob Davison admires a shot in EWU's 88-78 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 16. Davison suffered a high ankle sprain in the game against the Bears and is doubtful to return for the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

Sophomore guard Jacob Davison admires a shot in EWU's 88-78 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 16. Davison suffered a high ankle sprain in the game against the Bears and is doubtful to return for the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

Mckenzie Ford

Sophomore guard Jacob Davison admires a shot in EWU's 88-78 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 16. Davison suffered a high ankle sprain in the game against the Bears and is doubtful to return for the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

Mckenzie Ford

Mckenzie Ford

Sophomore guard Jacob Davison admires a shot in EWU's 88-78 win over Northern Colorado on Feb. 16. Davison suffered a high ankle sprain in the game against the Bears and is doubtful to return for the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

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The Eagles are one of the hottest teams heading into the Big Sky Conference Tournament,  coming off their first road sweep of the season.

EWU holds the conference’s longest win streak at three games and has won six of its last eight. The Eagles are the No. 3 seed in the tournament. EWU plays the winner of Montana State and Idaho on Thursday.

In conference play EWU won at least one game against every conference foe, but lost to every team except for Idaho State and Northern Arizona. Senior forward Jesse Hunt was poised for action before the team left to Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday.

“We know we can beat everyone because we have,” Hunt said. “A lot of teams doubted us after we had a tough preseason, with all that doubt we went out and proved we are a top three team in this league.”

 

The Eagles beat No. 4 seed Weber State on March 9 to close the regular season, and break a tie with the Wildcats in the standings. In that game the EWU forwards were key with Hunt, junior Mason Peatling and freshman Kim Aiken all scoring over 20 points.

“It’s just exciting,” Peatling said. “When you take losses the growing comes. I think it’s been a great turn of the tides.”

EWU had a different leading scorer in each of the last five regular season games. Head coach Shantay Legans said it comes down to the team taking what the defense gives them.

“We’re moving the ball around,” Legans said. “As we do that guys are getting more shots and our percentages are going up. It’s hard to go deny some of the guys on our team.”

EWU will likely be without sophomore guard Jacob Davison, as Legans downgraded his status to doubtful. Davison suffered a high ankle sprain against Northern Colorado on Feb. 16 and was still wearing a medical boot during practice Tuesday.

“They’re pretty much done for the season,” Legans said of Davison and sophomore guard Luka Vulikic. “Those are two tough losses, but that’s what happens during the season and you just have to keep playing and get better.”

In all likelihood, EWU will play MSU first in the tournament. The Bobcats finished 11-9 in BSC play, tied with Weber and Portland State, but had the worst overall record of the three. They take on the Vandals who finished last in the conference with a 2-18 record.

MSU lost four of its last six games of the season, but beat UI twice in the regular season with a combined score of 163-139.

EWU beat MSU 85-81 at home on Jan. 19, and lost 74-66 on Feb. 7 in Bozeman, Montana. The Bobcats are lead by Tyler Hall, who broke former Eagle Bogdan Bliznyuk’s BSC scoring record this year in Cheney. Hall was selected to the All-Big Sky first team, averaging 20.1 points this year.

Hunt and Peatling were selected to the All-Big Sky second team for EWU, with Davison making the third team.

EWU’s first game is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. The winner will play in the semifinal Friday at 7 p.m., and the championship game is Saturday at 5 p.m.

The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, which starts on March 18 and runs through April 8.

Tune into @easternersports on Twitter for live updates, or stream the games at Pluto.tv.

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