EWU Women Improve To 7-0 In Big Sky Play With Win Over Montana - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

EWU Women Improve To 7-0 In Big Sky Play With Win Over Montana


by EWU Athletics 

Cheney, Wash. - Whether it's with a dominant victory or a close game nail-bitter, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team keeps posting wins. The team sealed its seventh straight Big Sky Conference victory, 67-65, over visiting Montana, in a comeback that came down to the wire.

Eastern improves to 13-6 with the win and 7-0 in league play, while Montana drops to 11-8 with the loss and 4-4 in league play. The Eagles are off to a 7-0 start to Big Sky play for the first time in six seasons. EWU started its conference slate with seven straight wins back in the 2009-10 season.

After a slow start offensively in the first quarter, EWU found its groove in the second quarter, turning the game into a tight back and forth battle. Senior Hayley Hodgins and her sister, sophomore Delaney Hodgins, combined for 15 points in the first six minutes of the quarter, capped off by a Hayley Hodgins three to take Eastern's first lead of the game, 27-25. But with Montana threatening to pull ahead once again, freshman Aqeelah Williams ripped the ball free of her opponent and took it down the court for a layup. Bringing some needed energy off the bench, she continued to make plays, draining a three pointer to tie the game 35-35 with only 59 seconds left in the half. After the period ended, the Eagles trailed 36-35, having shot 51.9 percent from the field, and 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

The third quarter was a test of willpower for this EWU team, as they went on a five minute scoring drought, leaving them behind Montana 51-37, with 2:36 left in the third. But, the Eagles did not quit as signs of life began to show in the closing minutes of the period. Hayley Hodgins ended the drought with an important three, followed up by two more baskets from her. Eastern was now only behind 55-46 heading into the fourth quarter.

Halfway through the quarter, junior Ashli Payne made a statement, hitting two tough layups for and-one opportunities, bringing the game to a 56-55 standoff, still in UM's favor. With the Eagles' offense clicking, the Lady Griz seemed to have an answer for everything, keeping their lead above two, until a crucial Montana turnover gave Hayley Hodgins the chance she needed to tie the game with a jumper. The score rested at 65-65 with 1:18 remaining in the game, and Eastern's defense came up big, forcing a couple of Montana misses. With time ticking down to only three seconds Hayley Hodgins worked off her opponent for a jumper and missed the shot, but Delaney Hodgins flew in for the offensive rebound and finished the game winning shot, with only one second to spare on the clock.

Hayley Hodgins led the team in scoring with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 3-of-5 from three point range. Delaney Hodgins scored 19 points on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting. She also tallied seven rebounds. Ashli Payne recorded her fourth double-double of the season, scoring 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while grabbing 10 total rebounds. Junior Tisha Phillips filled the stat sheet with eight points, five rebounds, and a team leading six assists, as well as two steals and a block.

"I told our team in the locker room I was just about in tears," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "We showed tremendous heart, tenacity and determined to come back from what was a pretty bad third quarter on our behalf. The energy in Reese today gave us those legs we needed over the last five minutes. This is a special group, and watching them do things like they did today is why they are so fun to coach."

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