In the first game of the college basketball season, Eastern Washington got off to a slow start against Texas Southern, trailing 26-18 late in the first half. A quick flurry gave them a 32-30 lead at the break, but it had the look of a close, hard-fought game.
Then the Eagles came out in the second half and broke the game open, leading by as many as 30 points en route to an 86-62 season-opening win.
Eastern Washington turned often to its familiar friend, the three-point shot, draining 15 of them by the end of the game. The leader there was Tyler Harvey, who did not miss a beat from last season, as he hit seven threes in this game, finishing with 21 points. Backcourt mate Drew Brandon had his typical all-around game, finishing with 10 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, and four steals. The backcourt was in midseason form.
The real difference, however, was the play of Venky Jois in the second half. After a nightmare start, where he was 0/6 from the field with three turnovers in the first half, he finished with 22 points on 11/18 FG, also pitching in seven rebounds and three blocks. Jois was relentless in attacking the hoop, and while that got him into trouble early, TSU had no answers for him late.
It was not all roses for the Eagles… much of their early points came in transition on threes, as they struggled in halfcourt offense, turning it over 10 times in the first 20 minutes and struggling to find good shots. But the negatives were clearly far outweighed by the positives in this game, as they flashed the explosive offense that has many thinking they could win the Big Sky.
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