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March 19, 2015

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Thursday, March 19, 2015 Free Press Section 2 Page 5 urna Accept WNIT bid versus WSU FROM NEWS SERVICE REPORTS On the heels of one of the best seasons in program history, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team accepted a bid to the WNIT and played Pac-12 member Washington State March 18 in Pullman. EWU (20-11) appeared in the WNIT for the second time in three years and the third time overall under 14-year head coach Wendy Schuller. The Eagles' first appearance came following the 2009-10 season when they won the Big Sky Conference regular season title. Eastern returned to the tournament three years later following its 2012-13 campaign. "In recent years, going to a postseason tournament has kind of become an expectation for us," Schul- ler said. "We were disappointed last year when we didn't go, and we put ourselves in a better position this year. Eastern won its opening-round game of the Big Sky tournament last Wednesday in Missoula, beat- ing Northern Arizona 73-57 but saw its rally come up short Friday against eventual champion, Montana, 55-51. "We've had some quality wins both in the Big Sky and out of conference, and I'm glad that we're going to have a chance to keep playing," Schuller said. Eastern is 4-12 all-time against Washington State. The two teams last met Nov. 18, 2007, with Washing- ton State winning, 70-59, at Reese Court. Washington State (17-14) owns wins over four NCAA RIP top-50 teams in Dayton, Maryland, Gon- zaga and Washington, and finished seventh in the Pac-12 with a 7-11 mark. Junior Hayley Hodgins was named to the All-Big Sky Tournament Team after averaging 16 points in Eastern's two games. continued from page 1 Hoyas are the No. 4 seed in the South Region and the winner faces either Utah or Stephen F. Austin Saturday, March 21. In a season where suc- cess was de- ' fined by East- ern's ability to make huge comebacks of 18 points each against Idaho and Weber State in con- ference play, wins that ul- timately de- livered them a share of the Big Sky title, their rally in Missoula was from a mere 11 points. Butitcame in just the final six minutes of the game where Eastern stunned most of the crowd of 7,026 and outscored Montana 21-6 in that seem- ingly brief stretch. That final Eagle rally came after Montana broke a 42-all tie with their own 17-4 run - the first 13 of his 18 total points com- ing from Grizzlies' senior Brett Weisner - that put Montana ahead 59-48 with 6 minutes, 15 seconds re- maining. "We were down 11 and looked dead in the water," EWU head coach Jim Hayford said. "We called timeout, but we've been there before. I said, 'let's do this - let's play to win. Let's put the pressure on them and "We called start playing not to lose.'" timeout, but T h e n , we've been buoyed in there before. I part by a re- ported im- said, "let's do passioned this -- let's play speech dur- mg that break to win. Let's put the pressure on them and start playing not to lose." EWU head coach Jim Hayford byVenkyJois, Eastern went to work. Tour- ney MVP Tyler Har- vey scored eight of his team-high 18 points. His 3-point shot with 43 sec- onds to play made it a two-possession game. Drew Brandon (16 points) added six more, includ- ing the basket with 1:33 left that gave EWU the lead for good. His two free throws with six sec- onds to play sealed the win. Jois only had eight points but four of those came in this stretch. It was Felix Von Hofe's 3-pointer with 2:10 to Photo by Paul Delaney Eastern Washington's Tyler Harvey launches a shot against Idaho's Victor Sand- ers n the Eagles' Big Sky Conference opener in Missoula, Harvey connected on a career-high 42 points in the 91-83 win over the Vandals. play that gave the Eagles their first lead in over 11 minutes. The Big Sky Confer- ence's Freshman of the Year, Bogdan Bliznyuk, was the third Eagle in dou- ble figures with 13 points. Montana's Martin Breunig led all scorers in the game with 23 points. Eastern entered the game among the NCAA Division I leaders in ~point baskets at 40 percent, scor- ing an average of 10 per game. They were just 4 of 18 for 22.2 percent, but madeup for it by making 20 of 36 2-pointers. Saturday's test was just the final of a tedious series of pass at all costs exams. It began last Thursday, March 12 with the win over Idaho in which the Eagles' Tyler Harvey scored a ca- reer-high, Big Sky Tourna- ment and Dahlberg Arena record-tying 42 points. And it continued the following night as Felix Von Hofe came off the bench to score his career-high 23 points in the victory against No. 3 seed, Sacramento State. Idaho Harvey tied the Big Sky Conference Tourna- ment record with his 42 points. Ognjen Miljkovic had 13 points while Jois added his fifth-straight double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds). Connor Hill had 23 to lead Idaho. "He had an amazing performance -- we have a very special player in Tyler Harvey," Hayford said of the leading scorer in NCAA Division I basketball. Trailing 73-70 with 5:18 to play in the game, Eastern held the Vandals withoUt a field goal for the next 4:19 leading to a 15-2 Eagle run that gave them an 85-75 lead they never relinquished. Sacramento State After Harvey torched Idaho the day before, the Hornets held him to just nine points. But Eastemhad other weapons. Sophomore bench play- er Von Hofe finished 8 of 10 from the field and 7 of 8 from the 3-point range for 23. Jois added 19 and Bliznyuk finished with 16. Parker Kelly chipped in 11 points and in the process went over the 1,000-point mark in his career. With the game tied at four early, Eastern went on an 11-0 run. In one the Eagles made 16-of-17 shots from the field, includ- ing seven of its last eight in the first half and their first nine of the second half. "Felix was unbeliev- able," Hayford said. "I'm not surprised - he's a world:class shooter." . P De eycanbewached at pde~ss. com. continued from page 1 "It's a great thing to see your name up there after watching Selection Sun- day since you've been 5-years-old," Harvey told Weir. What a dream-come- true and a reward for the hard work done by coaches and players who have crafted a school-best 26-8 record. Several hundred Eagle followers found their way to Reese Court on rainy Selection Sunday. And like the players, they too anxiously waited as a lot of the 68-team bracket had been filled before Eastern appeared on the bracket line. "To see your name up there: you know I told Fe- lix (Von Hofe) sitting next to me, I've watched this show for over 30 years," Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said in a post se- lection press conference. Hayford's been filling out his own brackets for over 30 years he said. "I can remember be- ing a little kid with paper and pencil and make my own bracket and write 'em in, and for the first time ever to see your name there, it was a re- ally cool moment." He's looking forward to challenging his many friends to pick his Eagles. "It's awesome to put all that pressure on your friends." Because Eastern has been successful on big- stage situations all sea- son, starting back on Nov. 24 when they went to Bloomington and knocked off the Indiana Hoosiers, 88-86 at As- sembly Hall. "The last two Satur- days we've played in front of 7,000 people at Weber and 7,000 people at Montana, both of them our guys are saying this is nothing, we played at Indiana," Hayford related. "I promise you Port- land won't be more hostile than Missoula was," he said. "I was called things at Missoula I didn't know I was." The remainder of East- ern's season, however long it lasts, has, perhaps, more meaning for some of the seniors on the team. It could be the last seriously competitive basketball they'll play. Senior point guard Drew Brandon has hoped, but really never thought he'd realize the dream. "Never tltought it my- self (that I'd be up there), but it's been a dream my whole life," Brandon said. "I didn't expect that much joy when I saw it up there." And for Parker Kelly, "It's the dream of any NCAA Division I bas- ketball player to go to the tournament," he said. "And to do it in my senior year is very special." "We're playing great basketball right now and we're playing it at the right time," Kelly said. "It's a game we think we can win." Not surprisingly, so does Hayford. "I've never taken my team out of a locker room in a game, anytime I've been a head coach and not expected to win," he said. "I want my players to keep that same mindset." Georgetown is one of college basketball's elite programs with 30 tourna- ment appearances, three runner-up finishes and a 1984 national champion- ship on their resume. The Hoya's are a big challenge, but Eastern has faced and conquered many of those already. Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress. com. Dr. Cazan & Dr. Menke P,,C AIRWAY HEIGHTS DENTAL Military families welcome, inviting new patients, sedation provided, experienced providers and staff.! p.o. Box 1570 ~" ,X 13326 West Sunset Hwy. ~ Airway Heights, WA 99001 509-24.4-3655 Fax: 509-244-9527 [ t i' aus Sa gs C ub I i: ff~lO-~@ff,..~'( tt Eye Exams. Glasses. Contacts I WithYour Club Card continued from page 1 to go play," Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said. "The neat thing is they are not concerned about what name is across the other team's chest. They are just ready to go play basketball." Georgetown, the 1984 NCAA national cham- pions, are 21-10 overall this season and finished 12-6 in the Big East Con- ference. The Hoyas lost to Xavier 65-63 in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament March 13. Earlier this season on Dec. 27, the Hoyas won 91-87 in overtime over Indiana, which fell to Eastern 88-86 Nov. 24. Head coach John Thompson III leads Georgetown to the NCAA T oumament for the eighth time in his 11 years at the helm of the program. Eastern's one and only previous trip to the NCAA's came in 2004 when as a No. 15 seed, the Eagles fell to No. 2 seed Oklahoma State 75-56 in Kansas City. This will be the first- ever meeting between Georgetown and East- ern. The Hoyas have an all-time record of 3-1 against teams from the Big Sky Conference. 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