Eastern to play March 14 in Big Sky tourney versus MSU/Idaho winner

Eastern to play March 14 in Big Sky tourney versus MSU/Idaho winner

The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team will take on either Montana State or Idaho next Thursday (March 14) at 7 p.m. Pacific time in the quarterfinal round of the Big Sky Conference Basketball Tournament presented by My Place Hotels. The first round is scheduled for March 13, but thanks to a season-ending three-game winning streak – the best in the league — the Eagles will be watching the opening round of the 11-team tourney.

The top five teams receive a first-round bye, and Eastern secured a No. 3 seed into the tournament following games played on Saturday (March 9). Eastern was 12-8, a game ahead of three teams who finished 11-9 – Weber State, Montana State and Portland State. Tiebreakers gave the No. 6 seed to Montana State, which will play No. 11 seed Idaho in the first round at 7 p.m. Pacific time next Wednesday (March 13).

Eastern split the season series versus both Idaho and Montana State. The Eagles knocked off the Bobcats 85-81 on Jan. 19 on an afternoon at Reese Court when MSU’s Tyler Hall passed former Eagle Bogdan Bliznyuk for the career scoring record in the Big Sky. The Bobcats edged EWU 74-66 on Feb. 7 in Bozeman. Eastern lost at Idaho 74-71 on Jan. 3, then romped past the Vandals 82-57 in the rematch in Cheney on Feb. 18.

Eastern finished the league season in sole possession of third in the league with a 12-8 record, while Montana finished in sole possession of first at 16-4 and Northern Colorado was the runner-up at 15-5. Weber State, Portland State and Montana State all finished at 11-9, followed by Southern Utah (9-11), Northern Arizona (8-12), Sacramento State (8-12), Idaho State (7-13) and Idaho (2-18).

Eastern’s 12 league wins included victories over all other 10 league teams, with sweeps over Northern Arizona and Idaho State. One of Idaho’s two victories came against the Eagles on Jan. 3.

“No matter where we are seeded, any team in this league can win the Big Sky Tournament as long as you’re playing hard, smart, with passion and with confidence,” said Legans. “It’s a tale of Jekyll and Hyde for us, and it’s our job as coaches to get these players ready to go. Injuries have a little bit to do with it, but we have to play next-man-up. Kim Aiken Jr. has been the next-man up after Jacob Davison was hurt, and is playing on the wing for us. Confidence is a must. We got a little bit lost against Sacramento State, but with character and leadership we got it turned around. We beat the hottest team in the league when we beat Portland State.”

Pairings for 2019 Big Sky Conference Tournament Presented by My Place Hotels

CenturyLink Arena — Boise, Idaho — Times Pacific

Wednesday, March 13 (First Round – 8:30am/TBD/TBD): Game 1 – No. 8 Northern Arizona (10-20/8-12) vs. No. 9 Sacramento State (14-15/8-12); Game 2No. 7 Southern Utah (14-15/9-11) vs. No. 10 Idaho State (11-18/7-13); Game 3No. 6 Montana State (14-16/11-9) vs. No. 11 Idaho (5-26/2-18).

Thursday, March 14, 2019 (Quarterfinals – 11am/1:30pm/4:30pm/7pm): Game 4 – No. 1 Montana (23-8/16-4) vs. G1 Winner; Game 5 – No. 4 Weber State (17-14/11-9) vs. No. 5 Portland State (16-15/11-9); Game 6 – No. 2 Northern Colorado (21-10/15-5) vs. G2 Winner; Game 7 – No. 3 Eastern Washington (14-17/12-8) vs. G3 Winner.

Friday, March 15, 2019 (Semifinals – 4:30pm/7pm): Game 8 – G4 Winner vs. G5 Winner; Game 9 – G6 Winner vs. G7 Winner.

Saturday, March 16, 2019 (on ESPNU): Game 10 – Championship Game, 5 p.m.