Sacramento State (7-6) at Eastern Washington (4-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reese Court (6,000) -- Cheney, Washington. Television: None. Home Record: Sacramento State 5-2, EWU 3-3. Away Record: Sacramento State 2-4, EWU 0-7. Neutral Record: Sacramento State 0-0, EWU 1-1. Conference Record: Sacramento State 2-3, EWU 2-3. Series Record: Eastern Washington leads, 26-10.
GAME NOTES: A Big Sky Conference battle is on tap for Saturday night when the Eastern Washington Eagles play host to the Sacramento State Hornets.
Sacramento State's season got off to a surprisingly fast start, as it won five of its first six matchups, but since then it has gone downhill in a hurry. The Hornets lost at Portland State on Thursday night, 87-69, falling to 2-3 in conference play while suffering their fifth loss in their last seven contests.
EWU has been extremely inconsistent this season, as it has yet to win back-to- back games on its way to a 4-11 record. Things have turned around somewhat of late however. The Eagles have won two of four, with both victories coming on their home floor. They most recently took down Northern Arizona on Thursday by a convincing 82-59 margin.
EWU holds the advantage in the all-time series with Sacramento State, 26-10. The teams split the season series last year.
Sacramento State put together a solid shooting night in its latest bout, making 44.3 percent of its field goal attempts, but it still fell on the wrong end of an 18-point decision by allowing Portland State to net 56.1 percent of its shots overall and 12 3-pointers. John Dickson was stellar in the defeat with 16 points, while Konner Veteto and Dylan Garrity netted 14 points each. On the season, the Hornets put up a strong 70.1 ppg, but they are hovering around .500 by allowing their opponents to put up nearly as many points as they score (68.9 ppg). Dickson is a solid all-around contributor, as he leads the team in scoring with 14.3 ppg on 42.8 percent shooting (including 17-of-50 from 3-point range) while also tallying 5.2 rpg and more than a block per outing. Mikh McKinney (12.8 ppg) and Garrity (12.7 ppg) have been strong in the backcourt, as the two have combined for 104 assists and 32 steals. Veteto rounds out the double-digit scorers with 11. ppg.
The Eagles flew out to an early lead against NAU and never looked back, shooting 50 percent from the floor, including 8-of-17 from beyond the arc in the game, while claiming a 49-37 edge in the rebounding battle. Collin Chiverton was the spark plug off the bench with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while Venky Jois was outstanding in the paint with 14 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. Martin Seiferth (13 points, eight rebounds), Jeffrey Forbes (11 points), and Thomas Reuter (six points, seven assists) were also impressive. Scoring points has not been the issue for EWU, as it nets 70.9 ppg (albeit on just 40.3 percent shooting from the field), but it also has a scoring defense of 78.0 ppg, which ranks last in the Big Sky and is one of the worst figures in the nation. Justin Crosgile connects on just 35.6 percent of his attempts from the floor, but he makes up for it by tallying 14.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 5.5 apg. Jois is a much more efficient shooter (.503), and is one of the Big Sky's most consistent big men (13.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg). Chiverton has only played in nine games this season, but he's made his presence felt by scoring 11.8 ppg on 41.2 percent shooting from 3-point range.
With strong scoring attacks and questionable play at the defensive end from both squads, a high-scoring affair could be in the cards, but with Sacramento State struggling recently and EWU playing well at home, expect the Eagles to prevail.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Washington 80, Sacramento State 74
01/12 10:33:50 ET