GAME NOTES: The Montana State Bobcats will try again in the second leg of a three-game homestand, as they host the Eastern Washington Eagles in a Big Sky Conference conflict at Worthington Arena.
Eastern Washington had lost four of its previous five games before escaping with a 94-90 overtime victory over Northern Colorado last Saturday. The victory was just the fourth in 10 league battles for the Eagles, who are 9-12 overall and winless away from home, where they will be this Saturday as well against Montana.
In its last outing, Montana State lost to its most intense rival, at home no less, dropping a 70-66 decision to Montana. The Bobcats have now lost four of their last five games, falling below .500 overall (10-11) and to an even 5-5 in conference. They will wrap up this homestand on Saturday against Portland State.
When these teams met in Cheney earlier this season, Eastern Washington came out on top, 77-72. The Eagles have won four of the last five matchups, but Montana State still leads the all-time series, 43-32.
Tyler Harvey drilled a 3-pointer to save EWU and force overtime against Northern Colorado and then scored the first points of the extra session with another triple. Harvey finished with a career-high 38 points behind of a school-record 10 3-pointers.
Harvey (21.1 ppg) has been an explosive shooter this season, leading the Big Sky in scoring while sinking 44.5 percent of his shots from the floor, including 45 percent from beyond the arc. His effort against Northern Colorado was his fourth 30-point showing of the season and allowed him to bounce back in a major way from a season-low seven points in the previous game. Venky Jois (13.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg) acts as the second option for the Eagles, who are netting the second most points per game (75) in the Big Sky, despite ranking ninth in the league in field goal percentage (.444). Drew Brandon (10.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.5 apg) and Parker Kelly (10.3 ppg) are also in the mix.
Flavien Davis scored 22 points, but he did not get much help during Montana State's recent loss to Montana. The Bobcats did not have another double-digit scorer, as they shot an even 40 percent from the floor, which included a paltry 3-of-16 showing from 3-point range.
Davis (12.1 ppg) is used to being the lone double-digit scorer, as no other player on the roster for Montana State has demonstrated that kind of consistent scoring ability. Paul Egwuonwu (9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) returned to the lineup against Montana after missing time due to injury. However, he had only three points and no rebounds. Marcus Colbert (9.2 ppg, 3.3 apg) runs the point and has not missed a game this season, although he had only seven points and two assists in Monday's loss. As a collective unit, the Bobcats are netting 70.5 ppg on 44.7 percent shooting, ranking eighth in the Big Sky in each category.
The hope for Brad Huse's Bobcats is that Egwuonwu just needed a game to reacclimate himself. If he can play to the standard he set before his injury and the rest of the team fills in the gaps around him, the Bobcats should be in line for the victory.
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