SACRAMENTO -- Eastern Washington began the game on a 20-2 run, and received 40 points from senior swingman Bogdan Bliznyuk on the way to a 74-54 victory over Sacramento State on Thursday evening at the Nest.
Bliznyuk finished the game 15-of-18 from the field, 4-for-4 from the 3-point line and 6-for-6 from the free throw line while adding seven rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes. The 40 points were a season high, and his 24 points in the first half matched the Hornets' score at halftime. The 40 points rank as the seventh best mark in Eastern Washington history, and he now owns two of the program's eight 40-point games.
Bliznyuk sank 3-pointers on two of the Eagles' first three possessions and scored 12 points during the Eagles' 20-2 run to begin the game. During that spurt, which spanned the first seven minutes of the contest, Eastern Washington went 8-for-9 from the field (including four made 3-balls) while Sacramento State missed eight of its first nine shots.
Sacramento State cut the deficit to seven points on a pair of occasions in the second half, but would get no closer. Eastern Washington held a lead for all but 22 seconds of the game, and led by as many as 23 points late in the second half.
With the victory, the Eagles have won nine of their last 12 games while improving to 12-11 overall and 7-3 in the Big Sky Conference. Coupled with an 82-67 victory over the Hornets earlier this season in Cheney, the Eagles swept the season series. Eastern Washington has now won eight straight games against Sacramento State, easily the longest current losing streak for the Hornets against any Big Sky team.
Sacramento State, which was coming off a road win at Portland State last Saturday, dropped to 6-16 overall and 3-6 in league. The Hornets are now 5-3 at home, and 2-2 against conference foes inside the Nest. The 20-point loss was the program's most lopsided at home since a 79-53 loss to UC Irvine on Nov. 30, 2013.
Eastern Washington shot a blistering 57% (28-49) from the field, 48% (10-21) from the 3-point line and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. The Eagles shot 63% in the first half and 50% in the second half. Sacramento State shot 41% (23-56) from the field and 13% (2-15) from the 3-point line. The two made 3-balls were a season low for a Hornet squad that had shot better than 38% from distance in four of its last five games.
Sacramento State received a team-high 16 points from senior Justin Strings who shot 8-of-15 from the field in 32 minutes. The fourth-year senior scored in double figures for the 42nd consecutive game, the sixth longest active streak in the nation. He was joined in double figures by forwards Joshua Patton (11 points, eight rebounds) and Bryce Fowler (11 points, five rebounds). The 11 points for Fowler were a season high as the true freshman shot 5-for-7 from the field. One of those made buckets was a 40-footer that hit nothing but net as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had five assists without a turnover and a career-best five steals in 33 minutes of play. Guard Jordan Tolbert added six points and three assists, and guard Jeff Wu had five points. Sacramento State received just nine points from its bench.
For Eastern Washington, Bliznyuk's 40 points accounted for 54% of the Eagles' offensive output. In the teams' last meeting on Jan. 6, the Hornets limited Bliznyuk to a season-low two points on five shots using constant double teams against EWU's all-time leading scorer.
Jacob Davison scored 12 points off the bench for the Eagles and Mason Peatling added eight points and seven rebounds.
Sacramento State wraps up its two-game homestand on Saturday night when the Hornets host Idaho at 7 p.m. Sacramento State lost by one point (69-68) in the teams' meeting earlier this year in Moscow, Idaho.
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