PSU Vikings

03/08/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/09/2018 01:42

Bliznyuk, Strong Shooting Eagles Hold Off Vikings, 78-72

Boxscore - HTM | PDF
Reno, NV
- Eastern Washington's Bogdan Bliznyuk was the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year for a reason. He re-confirmed his credentials on Thursday night as the Eagles beat Portland State, 78-72, in a Big Sky Conference Tournament quarterfinal round game at Reno Events Center. Bliznyuk scored 35 points to lead the Eagles to victory and a tournament semifinal game. He made 11-14 shots from the field, 4-5 three-pointers, 9-11 free throws and grabbed seven rebounds for good measure. Third-seeded Eastern Washington shot well early, then controlled the pace of the game as the sixth-seeded Vikings struggled mightily to score from the field in the first half. After trailing by 21 in the second half, PSU made a run that pulled it within four with 1:15 remaining. However, that was as close as the Vikings would get. '(Eastern Washington's) shooting got us on our heels early. But I was proud of our team for not going away,' said Viking Coach . 'There wasn't any question in my mind at halftime that we weren't going to make a game of it. And our guys did. They battled and fought and scratched to the very end. They competed like they have all year.' The Eagles won for the seventh straight time and are now 19-13. They advance to a Big Sky semifinal game on Friday against surprise semifinalist, 10th-seeded Southern Utah. Portland State's NCAA Tournament hopes came to an end as they dropped to 20-13. They will wait to see if they get selected for a secondary post-season tournament next week.

Eastern Washington hit six of eight shots to open the game, including four three-pointers. The Eagles led 18-8 by the first media timeout. Making matters worse, Viking point guard and Big Sky Freshman of the Year got two early fouls, limiting his playing time.
Bliznyuk hit his first four three-point attempts of the game. When he made a pair of free throws at the 7:19 mark, the Eagles led 31-15. A moment later, Sir Washington scored on a breakaway dunk, capping a 12-0 run, and it was 35-15.
Woods finally dropped a pair of free throws with 5:11 remaining in the first half ending PSU's six-and-a-half-minute scoring drought. 's steal and breakaway dunk at the 2:19 mark ended a stretch of 10:51 without a field goal.
The Eagles led 43-27 at halftime behind 17 points from Bliznyuk. Portland State made only 8-22 (.364) shots in the first half combined with 10 turnovers. The Eagles hit 13-25 (.520), including seven three-pointers.
Eastern Washington had its lead at 21 early in the second half and were up 68-48 before the Vikings mounted a charge. hit a three-pointer, then scored 10 straight points, including a pair of three-pointers to trim the deficit to 70-59.
Woods driving three-point play with 1:46 left cut it to 72-66. After an Eastern Washington miss, Woods rebounded and was fouled. He made two free throws with 1:15 remaining and the score was 72-68.
But Bliznyuk delivered a fatal blow to the Vikings, making a driving three-point play with 46 seconds left. That put the Eagles up 75-68 and PSU's comeback was over.
Portland State ended the night 22-58 from the field (.379) while the Eagles were 26-50 (.520). They made 10 three-point field goals to five for the Vikings, essentially providing the difference in the game.
The Viking defense forced 18 turnovers and had 13 steals. They converted those Eagle errors into 28 points allowing them to come back and make a game of it.
Brown finished as the Vikings' scoring leader with 14 points on 5-5 field goals, including a pair of threes, and 2-2 free throws. Strickland scored 12 points and Woods added 10.
GAME NOTES: The teams had split the conference season series with each winning on their home court… Portland State's 20 wins mark the third-most in 22 seasons as a member of the Big Sky.