Cowboys Host Eastern Washington in NIT

March 16, 2003

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

For the fourth time in his five seasons at Wyoming, Steve McClain is taking his Cowboys to the post-season.

Wyoming will host Eastern Washington (Cheney, WA), of the Big Sky Conference Wednesday in the Arena-Auditorium on Wednesday, March 19. Tipoff is 7:07 p.m.

Tickets for the NIT matchup will go on sale to season-ticket holders at 8 a.m. Monday. They have until 11 a.m. Tuesday to claim their seats. Tickets, priced at $18, will go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Tickets for UW students are $5 and may be purchased at the Student Union Ticket Office beginning at 8 a.m. Monday.

This will be the Cowboys' third visit to the NIT since McClain has been head coach, and their eighth appearance in school history. They are 6-7 in those previous seven visits. Their highest finish came in 1986 when they lost to Ohio State in the championship game in New York. Wyoming lost its last NIT appearance to Pepperdine in Laramie (72-69) on March 14, 2001. This will be Eastern Washington's first-ever NIT appearance. The Eagles are in their 20th season as a Division I member.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to keep playing," McClain said Sunday evening. "These three or four extra days of practice are great for us, especially the younger players in the program. Being in post season is good for recruiting, good for our program and good for our fans.

"It is because of our fans that we are getting a chance to host a game," McClain continued. "It is a reward for our fans to see another game in the Double A.

"We know that Eastern Washington is a veteran team and a well-coached team. They gave Weber State all it wanted in the Big Sky Championship (60-57) on Weber's home floor. They will be excited to play. We're looking forward to meeting them."

This will be the fourth time Eastern Washington and Wyoming have met in basketball, and the Cowboys have won all four games. The two teams played twice in 1947-48 to begin the series. The two teams also played in 1976-77 (75-66) and 1977-78 (100-69) in War Memorial Fieldhouse.

The Eagles come into the game with an 18-12 record. They finished second in the Big Sky behind Weber State. They played one Mountain West Conference school, and that was San Diego State at San Diego, winning 75-70. They have four players averaging in double figures, led by senior guard Chris Hester at 13.9 per game. Junior guard Alvin Snow is right behind him at 13.4, followed by junior guard Brendon Merritt (11.1) and sophomore forward Marc Axton (10.0), who round out the double-digit scorers. EWU is averaging 70.6 points per game, and allowing 66.5.

The Cowboy Joe Club will host a pre-game party Wednesday for members at 5 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Gym.