To be the first college basketball game of the year you have to wake up early and that's exactly what the good people Cheyney, Washington did today for a 8 AM local time tip between the Eastern Washington Eagles and the Texas Southern Tigers.
Eastern Washington came into the game as one of the favorites for the Big Sky this season and were looking to showcase high powered guard Tyler Harvey and crafty big man Venky Jois.
Meanwhile Texas Southern, the preseason SWAC favorite for most, were just as anxious as anyone with a slew of transfers looking to hit the court. Mike Davis added Nevin Johnson (Creighton), Chris Thomas (Marshall), Deverell Biggs (Nebraska), and Nick Sheppard (Long Beach State). JUCO transfer David Blanks a starting lineup for Davis of all newcomers.
A Chris Thomas layup was the first basket of the college basketball season as the Tigers shot out to an early 7-3 lead on the road. The Tigers would sustain their lead until just before the ten minute mark when Felix Von Hofe nailed a three off a dish from Tyler Harvey that put the Eagles up 12-11.
Texas Southern fought back and regained a 23-15 advantage thanks to five straight made free throws from Tonnie Collard but then the Eagles woke up. EWU converted five three pointers to close the first half and take a 32-30 lead. The Eagles finished the first half with nine buckets from beyond the arc altogether.
The small advantage at halftime was enough to give the Eagles a little momentum at the break and completely dominate the second half. Eastern Washington grabbed a 86-62 after totally demolishing the Tigers in the second stanza.
Jois paced the Eagles with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks, while Harvey added 21 points of his own from a 7-for-12 performance from three. EWU finished the game with 15 three pointers in total and Harvey made more threes then all of Texas Southern combined. Despite those two impressive debuts it may have been Drew Brandon who was the star of the game just missing out on a triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists.
It wasn't any of Mike Davis' big transfers that lead the Tigers rather Collie off the bench for 23 points and 6 rebounds. Chris Thomas finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds, while Biggs added 14 points and 6 boards of his own.
Eastern Washington will first go to sleep and then start to focus on a Monday home match up against Utah Valley. The Eagles are already preparing the court.
Texas Southern won't see the comforts of home until November 28 as they continue down a brutal stretch with a match up at Indiana on Monday, Davis' former employer. The November 28 is the only home game for TSU until January 17 as they set sail on a schedule collecting paychecks from Tennessee, Gonzaga, SMU, Michigan State, Baylor, Auburn, and others.