Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - The final second-round NCAA Tournament contest on Thursday features the 13th-seeded Eastern Washington Eagles battling the fourth-seeded Georgetown Hoyas in the South Region of the bracket at the Moda Center.
The winner of this clash will advance to the third round against either Stephen F. Austin or Utah.
Eastern Washington had to overcome a homecourt advantage for Montana in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, but the Eagles were able to do just that in the title game against the Grizzlies to earn a 69-65 victory. This is the Eagles' second trip ever to the NCAA Tournament.
Georgetown, on the other hand, is no stranger to the postseason event. The Hoyas are making their 30th appearance, sporting a 46-28 all-time tournament record with a 1984 national championship trophy already in the hardware case. Coach John Thompson III has led Georgetown to eight NCAA tourney appearances in his 11 years at the helm. Georgetown was dropped from the Big East Tournament by Xavier, 65-63, late last week.
This meeting on the hardwood between Eastern Washington and Georgetown will be the first ever between the sides. Georgetown is 3-1 all-time versus the Big Sky Conference.
Montana grabbed a one-point lead over Eastern Washington in the Big Sky championship tilt at halftime, but the Eagles used 61.5 percent shooting from the floor in the second half to earn the win. Tyler Harvey, the nation's leading scorer, dropped 18 points in the title match. Drew Brandon chimed in with 16 points and Bogdan Bliznyuk added 13 off the bench with five rebounds. Martin Breunig tallied a double-double for Montana (23 points, 17 rebounds), but it wasn't enough for the Grizzlies against one of the hottest offenses in the country.
That offense currently ranks third in the entire country in scoring, netting 80.8 ppg on an impressive 48 percent shooting touch. Harvey was sensational for the second straight season, leading the country with 22.9 ppg on 47 percent shooting from the field, adding in a 42.8 percent mark from beyond the arc and an 85-percent touch from the free-throw line. He's hardly the only contributor, though. Venky Jois provides size and scoring in the paint, averaging 16.6 ppg on 60.8 percent shooting, and leads the team on the glass with 7.7 rpg. Sophomore Ognjen Miljkovic rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers for the Eagles at 10.0 ppg, while the point guard Brandon dishes out 4.8 apg.
Georgetown's comeback attempt fell just short in the Big East semifinals against Xavier, as the Hoyas, who trailed the Musketeers by nine at halftime, ended up two points short in the end. Jabril Trawick did what he could in the contest, netting 19 points to lead the team offensively. Isaac Copeland contributed 15 points with seven rebounds, and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in 11. Big man Joshua Smith was the fourth double-digit scorer for the Hoyas in the clash, adding 10 points in just 17 minutes of floor time.
Smith-Rivera heads into the tournament leading Georgetown in scoring with 16.2 ppg, which also ranks fifth in the Big East Conference. He's the go-to scorer for the Hoyas this season with only Smith (11.1 ppg) averaging double digits as well. Smith-Rivera also serves as the floor general which helps round out his stat line. He tops the team with 93 assists and 48 steals on the year, and owns a 4.1 rpg mark. The Hoyas as a unit are collecting 70.7 ppg on 45.5 percent shooting, which isn't bad considering Georgetown's schedule against the Big East was anything but easy. The Hoyas are giving up 64.6 ppg to opponents on 40.3 percent shooting.