PULLMAN, Wash. (AP)Steele Venters scored 27 points and buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining to rally Eastern Washington to an 81-74 victory over Washington State on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT.
Venters, the player of the year in the Big Sky Conference, sank 9 of 18 shots from the floor with four 3-pointers for the Eagles (23-10), who advance to play the winner of the Wednesday’s game between Youngstown State and Oklahoma State.
Venters was fouled with four seconds left and the Eagles up 77-74. He missed the free throw but grabbed the rebound with all four of his teammates in the backcourt. He sank two the second time around and Cedric Coward had a steal and a dunk to cap off the victory.
Angelo Allegri finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists for Eastern Washington. Tyreese Davis added 12 points and five boards.
DJ Rodman scored 23 points to lead the fourth-seeded Cougars (17-17), who played without All-Pac-12 first-teamer Mouhamed Gueye because of a lower back injury. Gueye led the conference in double-doubles this season. TJ Bamba contributed 15 points and seven rebounds. Jabe Mullins added 15 points and Andrej Jakimovski scored 11.
Venters scored 12 points to lead EWU to a 43-34 halftime lead. Bamba’s 3-pointer capped a 26-8 run and the Cougars led 60-51 with 11:31 remaining. The Eagles closed the game on a 9-0 run.
Washington State beat Eastern Washington 82-56 during the regular season.
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