CHENEY, Wash. - Despite playing the league's biggest team, Eagle Jacob Wiley played his biggest game with the eighth-most points in school history.
The 6-foot-7 senior graduate transfer had a double-double with 38 points and 12 rebounds as Eastern Washington University used a pair of runs in the second half to pull out a 77-72 Big Sky Conference victory Thursday (Feb. 2) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles used runs of 8-0 and 6-0 in the second half to take the lead for good, then held off the Hornets for their 15th win of the season. The victory moved the Eagles into a second-place tie in the league standings at 7-3, 15-8 overall. It also gave head coach Jim Hayford his 99th victory as EWU's head coach.
The Hornets started a front line of 6-foot-11, 6-8 and 6-7, and brought a 6-8 player off the bench. But Wiley was still able to register his fourth 30-point performance of the season with 38 – two points better than his career high of 36 set against Weber State on Jan. 14. He made 14-of-23 from the field and 10-of-13 free throws, and also had four blocked shots and three assists.
"Jake could have had 50 if he shot the ball like he normally does," said Hayford of the 64.0 percent shooter entering the game. "He missed some easy ones, but he had a great night. He's doing such a great job of making the most of his opportunity and making up for lost time at the Division I level. He just keeps putting unbelievable games up that I'm sure everybody in Eagle nation loves."
With 23 points and six rebounds in the second half alone, Wiley had his fifth double-double of the season. He has had at least 27 points in five of his last seven games, and at least 21 in eight of EWU's 10 league outings. For the season, he has scored at least 20 10 times and in double figures in all but two of EWU's 23 games.
Sophomore Cody Benzel hit a 3-pointer in both of EWU's runs, which helped the Eagles open a 10-point lead with 5:51 to play. Senior Felix Von Hofe chipped in nine points and six rebounds, but it was his defense late in the game that caught the eye of Hayford.
"Cody came in and gave us two really big 3-pointers," he said. "We didn't get that spark in the first half when we lacked energy, but Cody did that for us in the second half. He deserves praise for that. Justin Strings got going for Sac State, and Felix started getting stops on him, so Felix deserves some praise as well. Who ever thought we would be praising Felix on his defense? People grow."
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