It was Big Sky Conference men's basketball at its very best – and Jacob Wiley made it even better.
The senior graduate transfer equaled the 16th-best scoring performance in Eastern Washington University men's basketball history with a career-high 36 points, but Weber State had the 11th and final lead change of the second half with 1:11 to play and defeated EWU 70-67 Saturday (Jan. 14) at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah.
The Wildcats won their seventh-straight game and remained unbeaten in the league, but not before the Eagles led by as many as 12 in the first half. The game featured a total of 13 lead changes and 11 ties, including 11 of each in the second half. Eastern missed three shots after the Wildcats took the lead for good with 1:11 left on a 3-pointer by Cody John, who finished with a career-high of 24 points.
Wiley cut the lead to one with a three-point play with two seconds left, but Weber State provide the final margin with two free throws, followed by a desperation half-court heave by Wiley. Besides making his first two 3-pointers of the year, Wiley also had nine rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot as he made a statement of winning newcomer of the year honors in the league, and even candidacy of player of the year.
"Jake put us on his back -- what a super-human effort he had tonight," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "I'm really proud of him. He attempted the 3-pointers, and if he makes one of them he keeps them off-balance all night, and if he makes make two of them, they really aren't sure what to do. Give him credit – he made both of them."
Eastern's two losses this season – to league favorites Weber State and Montana – have been by a collective total of nine points. The Wildcats were picked to repeat as league champions in both preseason polls, while Eastern was picked fifth by the media and seventh by the coaches. The two teams meet again on Feb. 23 in Cheney.
"It's a tough one, but if we play this well the rest of the way we are going to really like where our record is at the end of the season," added Hayford, whose team won at Weber State 79-71 in overtime on March 5, 2015. That was the last time the Eagles played in Ogden where they have recorded just five victories in 35 games there all-time.
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