Vandals Top Eagles In Instant Classic
MOSCOW, Idaho — With six lead changes in the final 2:46, it was an instant classic.
But the 20th lead change of the game was Idaho’s as the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team fell 66-62 to Big Sky Conference preseason favorite Idaho Friday (Feb. 9) at the Cowan Spectrum in Moscow, Idaho.
Once again providing plenty of drama with a season-high 20 lead changes and five ties, Idaho took the lead for good on a basket with 25 seconds to play. There were six lead changes in the last 2:46 alone as the two teams traded a barrage of baskets, but Eastern’s Bogdan Bliznyuk had a potential game-tying layin blocked with six seconds to play.
In the 10 meetings since Idaho re-joined the Big Sky Conference in the 2014-15 season, EWU is 6-4 and the average winning margin for the winning team is just 6.2 points (62 points total). The victory helped Idaho take a two-game lead for third place in the Big Sky Conference standings ahead of fourth-place EWU and Northern Colorado.
“We came up one play too short,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans . “It was great game and a lot of fun. It was going back and forth and there were a lot of lead changes and ties. Players on both sides stepped up and made big shots.”
Although sick and throwing up at halftime, Bliznyuk led the way for the Eagles with the 19th double-double of his career, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Cody Benzel sank five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points, and four other Eagles scored at least six points.
The Eagles were hoping for a reversal of a home loss earlier this season, but instead have losses by a combined total of nine points on their resume. Earlier this season in Cheney, Idaho overcame a 20-6 start by the Eagles and went on to win 58-51. That was the first home loss this season for the Eagles, who were anxious to steal back a victory on the road. So far, EWU is 4-1 at home in Big Sky league games and 3-4 on the road.
Bliznyuk, who equaled the school record of 128 career games played on Friday, now has 1,925 career points in 128 career games, and he is just two points from ranking eighth in league history. Ranking No. 8 is Steve Conner from Boise State with 1,927 from 1974-78.