Bliznyuk Breaks NCAA Consecutive Free Throws Record
CHENEY, Wash. — It’s been a record more than two months in the making.
Eastern Washington University men’s basketball player Bogdan Bliznyuk set a new NCAA Division I record for consecutive free throws made as the Eagles beat Northern Arizona 85-68 in their Big Sky Conference regular season finale on Saturday (March 3) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Bliznyuk made all six of his free throws, including a pressure-packed, record-breaking pair with 3:46 left in the Senior Day game. He has now made 74 consecutive free throws dating back to EWU’s game at North Dakota on Dec. 31, breaking the NCAA Division I record of 73 set by Gary Buchanan from Villanova over a 21-game stretch in the 2000-01 season.
“It’s amazing what he’s done and it’s a cool streak,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans , who played professional basketball in Europe with Buchanan. “That’s a hard record to beat – I don’t think Bogdan’s new mark will be beaten. I think he’ll keep going and I don’t think he’ll miss again in his career. It was great for him to be able to break it at home in his last game at home. It’s something he’s going to hold and remember a long time.“
The Big Sky Conference Player of the Year candidate hasn’t missed in 2018, and is now 78-of-79 during conference play as EWU wrapped up the No. 3 seed for the upcoming Big Sky Conference Tournament. He had a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists versus the Lumberjacks, and can now set his sights on the career record of 85-straight free throws between Feb. 15, 2001, and Jan. 18, 2003, by Darnell Archey from Butler during a 57-game stretch.
Eastern used a 17-4 run in the first half to open a double-digit lead, and used a 9-0 advantage in 3-pointers to lead 38-25 at halftime. Sophomore Mason Peatling also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and true freshman Jack Perry had a career-high 18 points. Senior Sir Washington and redshirt freshman Jacob Davison were also in double figures with 13 and 14, respectively.
Eastern led by as many as 23 in the second half as EWU extended its winning streak to a league-best six games. It’s the longest streak in more than a year for the Eagles, and first in conference play since winning seven-in-a-row in the 2015-16 campaign. Included in this year’s triumphs was the school’s first road sweep in two years in late February, including a win over Weber State to give EWU a tiebreaker advantage in the league.
Eastern’s all-time leading scorer, Bliznyuk now has 2,060 points in his illustrious career to continue to rank third in Big Sky history. He is only 18 out of second and 42 points from the record of 2,102, with at least one more game left to play for the Big Sky Player of the Year candidate. Bliznyuk is only the fifth player in the 55-year history of the league to hit the 2,000-point mark.
Now 11-1 at home and 57-10 (85 percent) at Reese Court in the past five seasons since 2013-14, Eastern will play in the Big Sky Conference Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, March 8 against an opponent to be determined.
Records . . .
* The Eagles are 18-13 on the season and 13-5 in the Big Sky, and have won 15 of their last 20 games after a 3-8 start. The Eagles are 11-1 at home and 6-11 on opponent home courts this season, finishing 5-4 on the road in the league season and currently 7-1 at home.
* The Lumberjacks are 5-26 this year with records of 2-16 in the conference and 3-14 on opponent home courts (3-16 on the road including neutral site games). Eastern beat NAU on the road 81-76 on Jan. 18.
What it Means . . .
* With just one game left for all league teams on Saturday, Eastern has clinched the No. 3 seed in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, which takes place March 6-10 in Reno, Nevada. The top four teams receive first-round byes and won’t have to play until March 8 in the quarterfinals. Eastern will play at 8:05 p.m. Pacific time that night. Through Saturday afternoon’s action in the Big Sky, Montana clinched the regular season title at 15-2, followed by Idaho at 13-4, and EWU and Weber State at 13-5. Northern Colorado is currently at 11-6. Later tonight, Idaho State is at Montana, Southern Utah is at Idaho and Northern Colorado is at Sacramento State in games that will determine final pairings. The Eagles can finish no lower or higher than third in the league standings, either with a 3-way tie at 13-5 with Weber State and Idaho, or a two-way tie with Weber State. Eastern was swept by Idaho, but the Vandals and Eagles both defeated WSU in the lone meetings.