EWU Sweeps Montana for the First Time Since 1979-80 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

EWU Sweeps Montana for the First Time Since 1979-80

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by EWU Athletics

CHENEY, Wash. -- The Eastern Washington women's basketball team overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit to pick up a 64-57 win over Montana on Thursday (Jan. 26) to give the Eagles just their second-ever season sweep of the Grizzlies.

Tonight's victory over Montana marks the first time since the 1979-80 season that Eastern has won both regular season meetings. With the unbalanced Big Sky Conference schedule, this season marked the first time since the 2014-15 campaign the two programs played twice in the regular season.

"We didn't play great offensively, but we were able to find away just like we did at Southern Utah," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "We were really good rebounding tonight. I thought that was able to keep us into the game and give us an opportunity in the end. Ashli and Delaney were really aggressive on the glass. They crashed the boards really hard throughout the game."

Eastern had to earn the sweep the hard way, as they trailed by 11 with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles pulled even at 49-all with 32 second remaining in the third, but it would be a brief tie, as freshman Uriah Howard sank just her fourth 3-point field goal of the season at the buzzer to Eastern Washington a 52-49 edge heading into the night's final frame.

The Eagles scored the first three points of the fourth, as redshirt senior Tisha Phillips put a cap on a 22-5 run that saw her team erase an 11-point deficit and take a nine-point lead.

Montana battled back and pulled to within two points of Eastern with 3:42 left to play. However, that would be the last basket the Grizzlies would score on Thursday, as EWU closed the game out on a 5-0 spurt to pick up a seven-point victory.

Phillips, who has been battling through an injury over the last week plus, came off the bench and put in one of her best efforts in an Eagle uniform. The point guard scored a career-best 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting and hit four of her five 3-point field goal attempts.

"Tisha had a special night," expressed Schuller of her point guard's play. "She has the heart of a warrior, and played extremely hard giving her physical state. It was great to see her be able to step up and make some plays for us tonight."

Junior Delaney Hodgins picked up third double-double of the season with an 18-point, 10 rebound outing. Hodgins was one of two EWU players to pull down double-digit caroms, as Payne collected a game-high 11 boards.

Win-Loss Record: Eastern Washington moves to 6-2 in Big Sky play, while they are now 11-8 on the regular season. For Montana, they move to 0-9 in the Conference and 3-17 overall this season.

What It Means: With tonight's win, the Eagles complete a season sweep of the Grizzlies for the first time since the 1979-80 season. Eastern Washington has now won three-straight games against Montana, which is also the first time they've achieved the feat since ironically, the 1979-80 campaign.

Turning Point: The Eagles went on a 22-5 run that extended over the third and fourth quarters to turn an 11-point deficit into a nine-point lead. Eastern Washington would need all nine points of that lead, as Montana pulled to within two with 3:42 remaining, but the Eagles would close out the contest on a 5-0 spurt to pick up a seven-point win.

Key Stats: Eastern held a 39-24 advantage on the glass against the Grizzlies on Thursday. That rebounding edge allowed the Eagles to outscore Montana, 17-3, in second chance points.

The Eagles got a season-best 37-point performance from the bench. Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips attributed for all but 11 of those points tonight.

Top Performers: Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips scored a career-high 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting. It is the fifth time this season that the point guard has scored 20-or-more points in a game this season.

Junior Delaney Hodgins posted her third double-double of the season with an 18-point, 10-rebound night against the Grizzlies.

Despite being held to one point on the night, senior Ashli Payne was still able to be a key factor in tonight's win, as she pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Five of Payne's boards came on the offensive end.

Notables: Eastern Washington remains a half-game back from third place of Montana State, who comes to Cheney on Saturday, in the Big Sky standings.

The Eagles move to 20-2 over the last 22 Big Sky games played at Reese Court.

Eastern completes its first season sweep of Montana since the 1979-80 season, and have now won three-straight in the series.

Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips scored a career-high 26 points and hit a career-best four 3-pointers in Thursday's victory. It is the 32nd double-digit scoring outing for Phillips, while it is her sixth career contest with 20-or-more points.

Junior Delaney Hodgins collected her ninth career double-double. She also tallied double-digits in the scoring column for the 69th time in her career with 18 points.

What's Next: The Eagles will play for third place on Saturday, as they face Montana State. Eastern Washington is just a half-game back from the Bobcats in the Big Sky standings coming into the contest. Tip-off from Reese Court is set for 2:05 p.m. PT.

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