Both Eagles Basketball Teams Dominant in 2024 (2024)

Katherine Kneafsey

Senior guard Ellis Magnuson is the EWU record holder in career games played and is third in school history in career assists.

For the first time in Eastern Washington University history, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams claimed their respective regular season conference championships. It is only the third time that a school in the Big Sky conference has accomplished the feat.

The EWU men’s team posted a record of 21-10 this year, including a 15-3 conference record. A year after going 16-2 during the conference regular season, the men’s team continues to pace the Big Sky during the regular season.

EWU was powered by an explosive offense this season, and they led the conference in points per game with 81.2. They did not just play at a fast pace, however. The Eagles were also ranked first in the Big Sky in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage.

EWU’s top three scorers from 2022-23 were no longer on the team this season, meaning that existing players needed to step up and that new players needed to come in and make an immediate impact. Both of those happened for the Eagles.

Junior forward Cedric Coward primarily came off the bench for the Eagles last season and averaged 7.3 points per game. In the 2023-24 season, however, he led the team with 15.2 points per game, which finished sixth in the Big Sky.

Other junior forwards took big steps as well. Ethan Price, who was named to the preseason All-Big Sky team, went from 9.6 to 12.2 points per game while maintaining efficient shooting splits, while Casey Jones went from 7.6 to 12.5 points per game. Jones also shot 207 free throws this season, over double his number from last year.

Dane Erikstrup, yet another EWU junior forward, broke into the double digits as well, moving up to 10.9 points per game from 6.5 last season. He also set a new career-high in rebounds per game with 3.3.

The forwards weren’t the only team veterans that had to take on a larger role. Fifth-year senior Ellis Magnusson was a starter during his freshman and sophom*ore years, then came off the bench during his junior and senior years. However, he returned to the starting lineup for the Eagles this season and averaged a career-high 4.5 assists per game, the fourth-best in the Big Sky.

Another contributor to the Eagles’ success was fifth-year senior Jake Kyman, who transferred to EWU this season after three years at UCLA and one year at Wyoming. Kyman started every game for EWU and averaged 10.9 points per game and was a big reason the Eagles made the second-most three-pointers in the conference, as he led the team in made three-pointers.

“Being a part of a team that emphasizes my strengths and appreciates my game for what it is means the world to me as a basketball player,” Kyman said. “Even when things got hard, we stayed together and moved as one to figure out our problems.”

The goal for the men is now to win the conference tournament to be crowned postseason champions, which the team fell short of last season.

“Our goal all season is to be playing our best in March, and to get better every single day so we can make the [NCAA] tournament,” said Kyman.

The EWU men need to win three straight games to become conference champions and make the NCAA tournament for the first time in David Riley’s head coaching career, and the third time in Riley’s overall Eastern Washington coaching experience.

Both Eagles Basketball Teams Dominant in 2024 (2)

The women posted an even better record than the men, going 16-2 in the Big Sky and 26-5 overall. This represents a huge improvement for Eastern Washington, who finished fourth in the conference last season with an 11-7 Big Sky record and a 19-11 overall record.

A large component of the Eagles’ improvement was their lockdown defense. The EWU women allowed just 55.8 points per game through their 31 games, the lowest number in the conference.

They also forced the second-most turnovers.

The defensive strides made by the Eagles in the 2023-24 season were certainly a welcome sight for head coach Joddie Gleason after EWU allowed 63.5 points per game in 2022-23, directly in the middle of the conference.

The Eagles also limited their mistakes to a much greater degree than their opponents. They committed the fewest turnovers in the Big Sky, which when paired with their ability to get steals, gave them an average turnover margin of 5.19, over twice the margin of second-place Northern Arizona.

In addition to attacking and protecting the ball, the Eastern Washington women also shared it with their teammates, placing third in the Big Sky in assists. Fifth-year senior guard Jamie Loera led the team in this department with 5.5 assists per game, placing her second in the Big Sky.

Loera also contributed to the Eagles’ effectiveness in forcing turnovers. She led the conference with 2.4 steals per game, almost half a steal more than second place. Junior guard Jaleesa Lawrence averaged 1.4 steals per game, placing her just outside of the top ten in eleventh.

Loera and Lawrence combined with redshirt sophom*ore guard Aaliyah Alexander to give Eastern Washington three women in the top 20 in points per game. Alexander finished third with 15.0 points per game, Loera’s 12.6 points per game ranked eighth, and Lawrence placed 19th with 10.7 points per game.

The trio helped EWU score the third most points per game in the Big Sky. Combined with their stellar defense, Eastern Washington finished the year with an average margin of victory of 13.2 points, first in the conference by over four points.

The Eagles also crashed the glass, finishing second in total rebounds to NAU by just two boards. Loera finished eleventh in the Big Sky with 5.9 rebounds to lead the team, while senior guard Jacinta Buckley was just behind her with 5.8 boards a night.

Graduate student Milly Knowles also ranked in the top 20, as her 5.3 rebounds per game put her at fifteenth. 1.9 of her rebounds per game came on the offensive glass, good for ninth in the conference.

This season sports the highest win total for Coach Gleason in her time at EWU. The Eastern Washington women will be in search of their first postseason conference championship and first NCAA tournament appearance under her guidance, which began in the 2021-22 season.

Both Eagles Basketball Teams Dominant in 2024 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rueben Jacobs

Last Updated:

Views: 5990

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rueben Jacobs

Birthday: 1999-03-14

Address: 951 Caterina Walk, Schambergerside, CA 67667-0896

Phone: +6881806848632

Job: Internal Education Planner

Hobby: Candle making, Cabaret, Poi, Gambling, Rock climbing, Wood carving, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Rueben Jacobs, I am a cooperative, beautiful, kind, comfortable, glamorous, open, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.