Eastern Washington (12-15) at Idaho State (9-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 23rd, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Gym (3,200) -- Pocatello, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: EWU 7-4, ISU 5-6. Away Record: EWU 5-11, ISU 4-10. Neutral Record: EWU 0-0, ISU 0-0. Conference Record: EWU 6-7, ISU 7-6. Series Record: Eastern Washington leads, 34-27.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams sitting in the middle of the Big Sky standings attempt to improve their positioning before the start of the conference tournament next Saturday, as the Idaho State Bengals entertain the Eastern Washington Eagles tonight at Reed Gym in Pocatello.
Eastern Washington has been more down that up this season with a 12-15 overall mark and a 6-7 record in Big Sky action, although all of its conference wins have come against teams placed below it in the standings. The Eagles are currently losers of three of their last four, including a 78-73 setback to UC Irvine as part of the BracketBusters event last Saturday.
Idaho State has played poorly for the majority of this season with a 9-17 overall record, but it has fared better in the Big Sky as it is tied for third in the conference standings with Portland State with a record of 7-6, although still well behind front-runners Montana and Weber State. After winning four in a row a few weeks ago, the Bengals have cooled off, losing three of four, including a heart-breaker at the hands of Pacific in BracketBusters action last Saturday, 66-64, in overtime.
Eastern Washington has won three straight over Idaho State to take a 34-27 lead in the all-time series.
Eastern Washington's offensive style lends itself to a lot of points -- the team ranking fourth in the conference in scoring at 72.3 ppg -- but at the same time it ranks last in field goal percentage (.406). The theme continued in the recent loss to UC Irvine as the Eagles put up 73 points, but managed to connect on only 22-of-64 (.344) of their field goal attempts. The squad had five players reach double figures on the night, led by Collin Chiverton with 20 points -- his 12th 20-point performance on the year. Chiverton is the Big Sky's fourth-most prolific scorer at 16.1 ppg, and he has drained the most three-pointers (81). Cliff Colimon isn't far off Chiverton's scoring pace, putting up 15.2 ppg and he also dishes out 5.1 apg to rank third in the league. Cliff Ederaine adds 10.8 ppg to the mix and is the conference's second-best rebounder (7.7 rpg).
Idaho State forced an overtime period in Saturday's game by ripping off a 10-0 run to end regulation and seemed to have carried that momentum into the extra frame until a running, off-balanced three-pointer at the buzzer gave Pacific the two-point victory. The Bengals hung tight despite shooting just 37.5 percent from the field and 6-of-25 from three-pointer range. Melvin Morgan filled up the stat sheet in defeat, tallying 22 points, six boards, four assists and five steals. ISU has been finding a way to win conference games in spite of its poor offense (65.2 ppg) and defense (72.3), which results in the second-worst scoring margin in the conference (-7.1). Morgan (11.9 ppg) is part of a trio of scorers the Bengals rely on, which also includes Kenny McGowen (13.7 ppg) and Chase Grabau (12.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.2 apg). The three combine for five three-pointers per game at a 35.7 percent shooting clip.
Idaho State has been defying logic during its conference schedule, but in recent weeks the team's luck appears to have run out. It probably won't be pretty but EWU will score enough points to hold off the Bengals tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Washington 76, Idaho State 71
02/23 10:36:50 ET