It’s a first round contest of the CBI in the Beehive State as the Big Sky faces off with the WAC. The Eastern Washington Eagles are on the road as they travel to face the Utah Valley Wolverines Tuesday night. Eastern Washington had won eight straight before losing 82-65 to Montana in the Big Sky tournament title game Saturday. Utah Valley had won two straight and five of six before losing 75-60 to Grand Canyon in the WAC Tournament semifinals Friday night. The teams split two previous meetings with the Eagles taking a 75-50 win at home in the last matchup on November 17, 2014.
Eastern Washington Eagles Look to Regain Winning Ways
Eastern Washington was rolling along with eight consecutive victories but they came up on the wrong end of the scoreboard against Montana in the Big Sky final. The Eagles come into this contest 20-14 overall and 13-5 in the Big Sky. Eastern Washington led by 11 at the half and by seven with 14:37 to play before giving up an 18-2 run that spanned nearly eight minutes. All told, it was a 28-4 run that covered more than 11 minutes and left the Eagles in a hole they couldn’t dig out of. Eastern Washington shot 45 percent from the floor and went nine of 24 from three point range while allowing Montana to shoot 59.2 percent. Mason Peatling and Bogdan Bliznyuk each had 15 points to lead the Eagles in the loss.
The Eagles are 139th in the nation in scoring offense as they average 75.1 points per game on the year. Eastern Washington is 283rd in the nation in rebounding with 33.4 boards a contest and 247th in assists as they dish out 12.7 dimes a night. The Eagles have been slightly above average defensively , ranking 155th in the country by giving up 71.6 points a night. Eastern Washington shoots 46.8 percent from the field on the season. The Eagles are knocking down nine triples a night while sinking 38.1 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Eastern Washington is very good at the free throw line as they shoot 76.5 percent as a team this season. Bogdan Bliznyuk leads the team with 21 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists a night: he is the only player scoring in double figures. Mason Peatling, Jesse Hunt, Jacob Davison, Jack Perry, Cody Benzel, Sir Washington, Ty Gibson and Benas Griciunas all score at least 5.2 points per game this season.
Utah Valley Wolverines Seek to Advance to Second Round
Utah Valley had a solid season that came to an end in the WAC Tournament semifinals with a loss to Grand Canyon and coach Dan Majerle. The Wolverines enter this contest 22-10 overall and 10-4 in the WAC. Utah Valley trailed by 14 at the half and cut the lead to four with just over seven minutes to play but could get no closer. The Wolverines shot just 35.5 percent from the field and hit three of 19 three point attempts in the contest. In addition, Utah Valley was only 13 of 24 at the charity stripe and lost the rebounding battle 46-36. Akolda Manyang led the Wolverines with 18 points and 12 boards in the loss.
The Wolverines are solid offensively, ranking 71st in the nation with an average of 78 points per contest. Utah Valley is tied for 62nd in rebounding with 38 boards a night and 32nd in assists by handing out 16.2 dimes per contest. The Wolverines are sound on the defensive end, ranking 55th in scoring defense by allowing 67.7 points a game. Utah Valley shoots 48.1 percent from the field as a team on the year. The Wolverines are knocking down 7.9 triples a night while shooting 38.3 percent from beyond the arc. Utah Valley is good at the foul line, converting 73.7 percent of their attempts on the year. Kenneth Ogbe leads the team with 13.2 points per game. Akolda Manyang (13 points, 7.9 rebounds), Conner Toolson (12.5 points), Jake Toolson (11.4 points, three assists) and Brandon Randolph (10.8 points, 4.6 assists) are all averaging in double figures. Jerrelle DeBerry, Isaac Neilson, Ben Nakwaasah and Zach Nelson each score better than four points a night for the Wolverines.
- No Key Trends
- Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games
- Wolverines are 4-1-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up loss
This one is going to be interesting as there are a lot of quality role players on both teams. Eastern Washington is centered around Bliznyuk, who set the Big Sky scoring mark this season, but he’s the lone go-to option in crunch time. Utah Valley has five players scoring in double figures and while none of them are even at the 14 point mark, that kind of balanced scoring is important. Bliznyuk will put up his numbers but Eastern Washington was just 6-11 on the road this season while Utah Valley is 15-1 at home. Look for the Wolverines to come up with the victory here to advance.