GAME NOTES: The Eastern Washington Eagles try for their first three-game winning streak of the season on Monday night when they square off against the Portland State Vikings in a Big Sky Conference bout at the Stott Center.
Eastern Washington has really struggled this season, as it sits with an 8-17 record and a 6-9 mark in the Big Sky, but it has been much improved in recent weeks with wins in four of its last six contests. The Eagles most recently hosted Southern Utah on Saturday and came away with a convincing 86-72 victory.
Portland State too has disappointed this season, going just 6-16 overall and 4-11 in conference. The Vikings had been losers of nine straight games before claiming a 90-69 win over Southern Utah last Thursday. This game marks the second of a five-game homestand for PSU, which is 6-4 at the Stott Center this year.
EWU claimed a 76-65 decision on its home court in the first meeting between the programs this season on Jan. 28, but PSU has won eight of the last 10 matchups and lead the all-time series, 20-19.
The Eagles had one of their few dominating performances of the season in Saturday's 14-point win over SUU. Not only did they shot an impressive 53.7 percent from the field, but they also held the Thunderbirds to just 32.8 percent efficiency. Providing a spark off the bench was Collin Chiverton, who played just 10 minutes but took full advantage of his time on the court by shooting 5-of-8 from the field for 18 points. Parker Kelly poured in 15 points, while Martin Seiferth made his presence felt down low with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. The strong performance was far from the norm for EWU, as it ranks just seventh in the league in scoring offense (67.5 ppg) and 10th in scoring defense (73.6 ppg). The team's biggest strength is clearly in the frontcourt where Venky Jois nets 12.5 ppg and ranks first in the conference with 9.5 rpg and 2.5 bpg, while Seiferth is also an imposing force (7.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg). Chiverton (10.8 ppg) and Kelly (8.7 ppg) are the top threats out on the perimeter.
The Vikings celebrated their return home with an easy 21-point win over SUU last week, shooting 28-of-54 from the field (.519) and 31-of-35 from the foul line (.886) for their best offensive showing of the season. Pacing six players in double figures was Michael Harthun, as he shot 7-of-11 from the field for 19 points. Renado Parker tallied 16 points and eight rebounds, Michael Harvey netted 13 points off the bench, Aaron Moore had 12 points and three blocks, and Lateef McMulland and Gary Winston rounded out the balanced attack with 11 points apiece. Portland State has been a solid offensive squad this season, averaging the fifth-most points in the Big Sky (68.6 ppg), but much like EWU, it has been plagued by a poor scoring defense, which yields greater than 72 ppg to its opponents. The Vikings have four players averaging in double figures, paced by Moore with 12.7 ppg on 53.5 percent field goal shooting. He also chips in a team-high 6.9 rpg and 0.9 bpg. Parker (11.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is also solid down low, while Harthun and McMullan each add 10.5 ppg.
EWU is playing better than it has all season, but it has had its share of trouble away from home, winning just one of 12 true road tilts. Portland State is carrying a bit of momentum into this matchup and should be able to feed off the energy in the building to capture a hard-fought victory.
Game Date and Time