Eagles Take Their Second Win Over Conference Opponent Northern A - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles Take Their Second Win Over Conference Opponent Northern Arizona

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Tisha Phillips had 15 points, seven rebounds, and a team leading four assists and three steals in the win over NAU. (Photo: EWU Athletics) Tisha Phillips had 15 points, seven rebounds, and a team leading four assists and three steals in the win over NAU. (Photo: EWU Athletics)

by EWU Athletics

Cheney, Wash. - The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team maintained its spot as the Big Sky Conference co-leaders with a hard-fought victory over visiting Northern Arizona, 72-65, on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Eastern improves to 15-7 with the win and 9-1 in league play, while Northern Arizona drops to 6-15 with the loss and 2-8 in league play.

After first half shooting struggles plagued both teams, the game would certainly turn out to be a tale of two halves. EWU found its groove in the third quarter, taking a 37-36 lead with 4:27 left in the third, in a game that had already been tied 10 times. Immediately following its new lead, Eastern forced two quick turnovers, completing a four point swing, and establishing a lead they would not give up the rest of the game.

EWU began the fourth quarter up 47-42, and with the help of a 9-4 run, the Eagles started to pull away. Feeding off the momentum, sophomore Delaney Hodgins hit her first three of the game, giving Eastern a 10 point lead, and junior Tisha Phillips ended the run with a quick layup, courtesy of junior Ashli Payne's steal. Now sitting with a 12 point lead, 54-42, with 8:29 left, EWU would maintain at least a 10 point margin for the next four minutes of the game. However, NAU was not through with the game, it went on a late game run, coming back from a 68-58 deficit with 2:37 left, to a 68-65 margin with 58 seconds left. Needing one last shot to ice the game, Tisha Phillips came up in the clutch, draining a three pointer over the defense as the shot clock expired with 20 seconds left in the game.

Delaney Hodgins tied for the lead in scoring with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting. She nearly recorded a double-double, grabbing nine rebounds, as well as tallying three assists, and a team leading three blocks. Tisha Phillips scored 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting, while recording seven rebounds, and a team leading four assists and three steals. Ashli Payne scored 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. She also tallied nine total rebounds on the evening. Freshman Amira Chandler played a large role off the bench, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, while grabbing six rebounds.

The Eagles shot 43.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the three, while the Lumberjacks shot 37.5 percent from the field and 7.1 percent from three. In the second half, Eastern shot 53.3 percent, compared to 46.7 percent for Northern Arizona.

The Eagles doubled its 24 points from the first half, scoring 48 in the second half. The Lumberjacks scored 39 points in the second half, compared to 26 points in the first.

Both EWU and NAU turned the ball over 16 times, with the Eagles scoring 23 points off the Lumberjack's miscues. Northern Arizona scored 14 points off of Eastern's mistakes.

NAU lived predominantly in the paint, scoring 42 of its 65 points there. EWU scored 26 points in the paint.

"Tonight wasn't our best offensive performance overall, and our basic half court execution wasn't great," said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. "It was nice that our press got us going in the second half. It allowed us to force some turnovers, and I thought it energized us and got us revved up."

The Eagles stay at home to play their second game against Southern Utah, on Saturday, Feb. 6, starting at 2 p.m. PST.

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