Bliznyuk Breaks Record, Eagles Win
It was Bogdan Bliznyuk ‘ s night to set the school’s career scoring record, but it was his teammates who made sure he had a victory to go with his near triple-double of 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The senior broke the career scoring record for the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball program, and the Eagles used big runs in each half to beat North Dakota 95-71 in a Big Sky Conference game Thursday (Jan. 25) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Bliznyuk needed just two points to break EWU’s all-time scoring record, and achieved it with a 3-pointer barely a minute into the game to give EWU a 7-2 lead. Eastern head coach Shantay Legans called a timeout so his accomplishment could be acknowledged, then the Eagles used the energy to open a 30-8 lead while making 12 of their first 15 shots.
“I was going to wait until the media timeout, but it just felt good,” said Legans of using a timeout so early in the game. “He shot his first shot and it went in and it was a special moment for him and his family. I couldn’t be happier and it couldn’t happen to a better kid.”
North Dakota pulled within eight early in the second half, but EWU used a 14-0 run to pull away. Bliznyuk didn’t score in the run, as four Eagles scored in double figures and nine different players scored. Eastern has won seven of its last 10 games, but was coming off a 66-62 road loss at Southern Utah.
“It was a good game,” said Legans, whose team scored a season-high 95 points in the win. “For us to come out and play that way was really exciting for us. The team responded to the loss we just had on the road, and came out and played great. It was fun.”
A native of Lutsk, Ukraine, who graduated in 2014 from Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, Wash., Bliznyuk nearly had his second career double-double as he finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists against the defending Big Sky regular season and tournament champion. Besides taking over the EWU scoring lead, he moved up four spots into 11th on the Big Sky all-time list.
“I’m glad we have Bogdan – he played great tonight,” said Legans. “The team came out and did a great job. Before the game he got a chance to talk to the guys and got them really fired up.”
Bliznyuk now has 1,830 points in 124 games, and is just four games played from that career record as well. Ron Cox had 1,741 points from 1974-77 and held the record for 39 years – about 14,300 days – until broken by Jois on March 3, 2016 in an Eagle loss. Thus, Jois owned the record for just 693 days.
Bliznyuk has at least 11 more games to add to that record total, starting Saturday (Jan. 27) at 2:05 p.m. when Eastern continues its Big Sky Conference schedule by hosting Northern Colorado. The Bears beat the Eagles 88-75 the last time the teams met on Dec. 29 in Greeley, Colo.