Grizzlies top Eagles at Reese Court

Once again, the Eagles toed the fine line between victory and defeat at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

But it was Montana that was given the opportunity to win the game at the free throw line as the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team suffered its first home loss of the season in a 65-59 loss Saturday (Jan. 7) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

After a key defensive play went against the Eagles with 52 seconds to play, the Grizzlies made their last six free throws and EWU missed its last four field goal attempts in a game that featured seven ties and 17 lead changes. Eastern lost for the first time in three Big Sky Conference games and is now 8-1 at home – including five games won by six points or less.

“It was a really good basketball game,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said after his team was whistled for seven more fouls and had 16 less free throw attempts than the Grizzlies. “They made big plays in the last minute and we didn’t. It’s a tough one, a really tough one. We really thought we fought hard and played great defense to make a stop that would have given us the ball up one.”

Bogdan Bliznyuk scored 21 points and had six rebounds and six assists to lead the Eagles, with former Grizzly Jacob Wiley finishing with 10 points and a season-high 14 rebounds. In a game that was statistically even in most respects, the only difference was at the line where Montana made 16-of-24 and EWU sank 7-of-8. In the second half alone, the Grizzlies were sent to the line 20 times (making 15) while EWU had just six charity shots (made all six).

The Eagles have now had their top three defensive performances of the season against NCAA Division I opposition in their last three games, holding Idaho to 62 points and Montana State to 64 in a pair of wins.