Eagles clinch share of Big Sky Championship with win over Idaho State
CHENEY, Wash. — Riding a 17-0 run in the second half in which it made 10-straight shots, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team earned at least a share of the regular season Big Sky Conference crown in part by beating Idaho State 100-75 on Thursday (March 5) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Coupled with Montana’s 71-64 home loss to Northern Colorado, the 15-4 Eagles can wrap up its first outright title since 2004 when it plays its Senior Day game versus Weber State Saturday (March 7) at 2:05 p.m. in a game televised by Eleven Sports.
“It was a good one tonight,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans. “We want to make sure everybody comes out Saturday and enjoys a huge game. We want to celebrate the season with our fans, and these are great young men. Mason is playing his last game at a very emotional time. We want people to cheer, cry, smile and have a good time – you have to love the game of basketball because it’s brought us all together. Go Eags!”
Senior Mason Peatling had a near triple-double with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Eagles, who also had two players with over 20 points. Junior Jacob Davison had 23 with four assists, and redshirt freshman Casson Rouse had a career-high 21, eclipsing his previous best of 14 points.
All 11 players who played scored for EWU, which sank 62 percent of its shots in the second half after leading 46-41 at intermission. The Eagles closed the game at 57 percent and had a 35-28 rebounding advantage. Eastern cracked the 100-point mark for the third time this season, but first against a NCAA Division I opponent.
Eastern has clinched at least a share of its fourth Big Sky regular season title in school history (2000, 2004, 2015), and has won two Big Sky Tournament titles (2004 and 2015) to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles also have national postseason appearances in the NIT (2003) and the College Basketball Invitational (2016, 2017, 2018). It’s postseason fate will be determined starting March 12 when Eastern plays in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Boise, Idaho.
Eastern is now 22-8 on the season with a six-game winning streak. Eastern has already achieved the school’s second-highest win total in 37 seasons as a member of Division I, with the only seasons better than 20 wins coming in 2014-15 (26) and 2016-17 (22). At 15-4 in the league, Eastern has also achieved the most wins in 33 seasons in the Big Sky, breaking the previous record of 14 set in 2014-15.
Eastern has won 13 of its last 15 games in the league. The Eagles are 10-6 on the road and 12-2 at home this season, including an 8-2 road mark in league games and 7-2 at home. The Eagles have lost twice to league-leading Montana, plus once each to the two bottom teams in the league – Idaho and Idaho State.
Eastern held the lead for 18:54 of the first half, but could never shake the Bengals who forged three ties totaling the other 1:06. Eastern used a 6-0 run to take a 27-20 lead, but the Bengals hit 53 percent of their shots in the first half and were within five at intermission, 46-41. Davison scored 16 of EWU’s points and Rouse had 10.
The Eagles broke it open in the second half with their 17-0 run, holding ISU scoreless for 3:48. During that stretch, EWU made 10-straight shots, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Perry to cap the run. Rouse had seven and Peatling had the other four during the run.