Eagles face tough home stand against Sac State and PSU
Eastern Washington and coach Jim Hayford have a lot to play for this week at Reese Court.
The Eagles need to get back on the winning track after an overtime loss at Montana State. That in turn would keep them in contention for a high finish in the Big Sky Conference.
Another bonus if the Eagles can beat Sacramento State on Thursday and Portland State two days later: Hayford will be the fastest to 100 wins (when measured by season) in school history.
Hayford, in his sixth year, is 98-87 record at Eastern, and is 352-171 in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Legendary coach Red Reese (470-301 in 31 seasons) achieving the feat in his seventh season. Vin Eustis needed eight years, but did it in fewer games, going 108-43.) Jerry Krause (261-197 in 17 seasons) also reached his 100th in his eighth season.
“We have a big week of home games coming at us,” Hayford said. “We keep making improvement every week. I believe that our best performance can be our next performance, as each individual continues to improve and we improve collectively.”
Forward Jacob Wiley continues to impress. He’s coming off a 34-point performance at MSU; for the season, he is averaging 17.9 points per game overall on 64.0 percent shooting to rank seventh in the nation and second in the league.
Coming off a road split in the state of Montana, the Eagles (6-3 Big Sky, 14-8 overall) are at home against two of the surprise teams of the Big Sky Conference. Picked to finish ninth and eighth, respectively, the Hornets and Vikings are both 4-4 and trying to move into the upper half of the standings.
Sac State has won four of its last five conference games, including an 80-77 overtime victory at home against PSU last Saturday.
The Hornets are 7-12 overall, including a pair of losses to San Francisco (77-59) and Denver (72-61) earlier this season in the EWU Classic in Cheney. Eastern defeated the same two opponents, 96-90 and 85-80, respectively.
The Vikings are 11-8. Portland State is the top scoring team in the conference at 85.5 points per game overall – 11th-best in the country – and the third-best in league games only (79.4).
The top five teams secure first-round byes in the Big Sky Conference Tournament March 7-11 to Reno, Nevada. There are still nine games left to play for the Eagles in the league season.