Von Hofe, Benzel push Eastern Washingon past Linfield

Von Hofe, Benzel push Eastern Washingon past Linfield

CHENEY, Wash. - Eastern's sharp-shooting was at its finest Friday afternoon (Nov. 11) at Reese Court, and the Eagles will need much of the same in the next two games.

Felix Von Hofe and Cody Benzel combined to sink 12 3-point shots and the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team officially opened the 2016-17 season Friday (Nov. 11) with a 70-47 Veteran's Day victory over Linfield in Cheney, Wash. A 19-0 run and 8:07 scoreless stretch in the first half turned a 30-23 Eagle lead into a 49-23 advantage in the second half.

Von Hofe had 21 points and made seven 3-pointers to come three from the school record of 10. Benzel had four of his five treys in the first half and finished with 17 points. Eastern made 16-of-32 as a team for 50 percent versus the zone defense of the Wildcats, coming four makes from the school record of 20.

"We did some things really well, including our shooting," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "If you are going to play a zone for 40 minutes, we're going to get the ball to our shooters. Felix was good all night and Cody was amazing in the first half."

Won-Lost Records . . .

* The game was the season opener for both teams. Last season, Eastern finished 18-16 and won its first-ever NCAA Division I postseason game. Linfield, a member of NCAA Division III and the Northwest Conference, was 11-14.

* Eastern is now 2-0 all-time against Linfield. Eastern beat the Wildcats 104-54 on Dec. 8, 2011.

What It Means . . .

* The Eagles have now played two lower-division games to prepare them for the rigors of a non-conference schedule that will see them play teams from 13 different conferences. Eastern's schedule includes four teams which appeared in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and four others who joined EWU last year in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). Eastern beat Saint Martin's 80-69 in an exhibition game to unofficially begin the year on Oct. 30.

What's Next . . .

* The Eagles play 16 games at home this season, including five in the month of November alone. But before they get to the meat of their home schedule, the Eagles must play at Northwestern of the Big Ten Conference and Texas of the Big 12 Conference next week. As part of the Legends Classic, EWU faces Northwestern on Nov. 14 and Texas on Nov. 17 on the road. Northwestern finished with an overall record of 20-12 and 8-10 in the Big 10, losing to Michigan in the first round of the Big 10 Tournament. Texas (20-13 overall and 11-7 in the Big 12) lost to Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament and went on as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament where it lost to Northern Iowa in the first round.

* Northwestern officially opens its season tonight by hosting Mississippi Valley State. The Wildcats beat Illinois Springfield 89-52 in a non-conference game.