Sanders Leads Vandals Over Eastern In Cheney

The Eagles were lighting up the Reese Court scoreboard early, but preseason Big Sky Conference favorite Idaho was able to dim the glow.

Despite a 20-6 start and a defensive effort that equaled its season best, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team fell 58-51 to the Vandals on Friday (Jan. 12) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

The Eagles held Idaho to 58 points, equaling the fewest EWU has allowed to an opponent this season. Idaho sank just 40.8 percent of its shots, including only 2-of-9 3-pointers in the second half (22.2 percent). But defense wasn’t EWU’s problem as it lost for the first time in six games at home this season while having its Reese Court winning streak snapped at 12.

After sinking eight of its first 13 shots from the field to jump out to the early 14-point lead, Eastern finished at just 36.4 percent from the field for its lowest percentage since Dec. 7. Eastern’s 51 points were its fewest since scoring 50 in a loss to Georgia State in November, and Eastern hadn’t scored fewer than 65 in the 12 games since – and no fewer than 77 in the last seven.

“Our guys came out and played with great emotion and great fire, and I thought they did that throughout the game,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans . “But as you don’t score and the game stops going the way you want it to go, your effort level doesn’t dip but your confidence does a little bit. We didn’t play with that same confidence and same swagger as we did at the start and how we have been playing. We have to do a better job next time sustaining that energy we played with early. You can’t say we didn’t come out and play defense, because I thought we did a good job there.”

Most notably, Idaho held Eastern senior Bogdan Bliznyuk scoreless for 32:12 of the game after he scored nine early points. He finished as the only Eagle in double figures with 14, and now has 1,756 career points, 47 away from the all-time record.

The two teams will play again in Moscow on Feb. 9. Eastern’s next game is at Northern Arizona next Thursday (Jan. 18) at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time, followed by a game at Southern Utah on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time.