Eagles' stars combine for 55 to help EWU top Sacramento State - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles' stars combine for 55 to help EWU top Sacramento State

EWU Athletics

SACRAMENTO -- The Big Three for the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team made their presence felt on Thursday (Feb. 2) against Sacramento State, as they helped the Eagles collect a 72-65 victory over Sacramento State in Big Sky Conference action.

Seniors Ashli Payne and Tisha Phillips, along with junior Delaney Hodgins scored a combined 55 points on Thursday to help Eastern open an important Big Sky road trip with a victory. It was the junior, Hodgins, leading the way for EWU, as the Pasco, Washington native scored a game-high 22 points. Payne was just one point off Hodgins' pace with 21, while Phillips got hot in the fourth quarter and chipped in 12 points.

"I was really pleased with our effort tonight," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "We worked hard to prepare and I thought that our players really carried over the things that we wanted them to do in this game. I thought defensively we did some nice things and played with a lot of intensity. It was good to see the Big Three be effective for use offensively. Overall, just a great team effort tonight, which lead to a win over a tough Sacramento State team."

EWU's defense limited the highest scoring team in the conference to their lowest point total of the season. The 65 points by the Hornets tonight is 19.2 points fewer than the 84.2 points per game they were averaging coming into contest. Eastern limited Sacramento State to a 31.3 field goal percentage on the night, while they forced 15 turnovers. Freshman Symone Starks paced the EWU defense with three steals.

Eastern's offense got back into a groove on Thursday, as the 72 points were the most scored for the Eagles over their last four games.

EWU shot 47.3 percent from the field on Thursday thanks to an impressive offensive display in the final two quarters of play. The Eagles hit a combined 53.3 percent from the field in the third and fourth quarter after shooting an even 40 percent from the field through the first two quarters.

Eastern's hot-shooting was need towards the end of the game, as both squads shot over 50 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, as the Eagles were able to collect the seven-point victory on the road.

Win-Loss Record: Eastern Washington improves to 7-3 in Big Sky play, while they move to 12-9 overall on the year. For the Hornets, the loss snaps their two-game winning streak, as they are now 4-6 in conference play and 8-12 overall on the year.

What It Means: With tonight's win, Eastern now has a chance collect its first perfect conference road trip of the season when they head into Portland State on Saturday afternoon. The victory over the Hornets is the first time EWU has won the first game of a two-game Big Sky road trip in 2016-17.

Key Stats: The Eagles slowed down the pace of the game on Thursday to off-set the high-powered Sacramento State offense, and that approach helped Eastern to a 30-20 edge in points in the paint. EWU also held a plus-7 advantage in rebound at 44-37.

Despite being outrebounded, 16-10, in offensive caroms, the Eagles were still able to maintain a one-point edge in second-chance points at 9-8.

Turning Point: Sacramento State took a 31-29 lead at the 7:56 mark of the third quarter. Eastern Washington would go on a 10-1 run from that point to take a seven-point lead, and eventually grabbed a double-digit lead at 7:17 remaining in the contest after a Payne 3-point field goal gave Eastern a 56-45 lead.

Top Performers: Junior Delaney Hodgins was one rebound shy of her third-straight double-double, as the forward collected a game-high 22 points to go along with a team-best nine rebounds on Thursday. Hodgins also handed out five assists.

Senior Ashli Payne recorded her fifth 20-point game of the season with a 21-point outing against the Hornets. The forward went 7-of-13 from the field and added six rebounds to her stat line.

Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips handed out a game-high seven assists to go along with 12 points. The point guard went a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc.

Sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow pulled down seven rebounds on Thursday, just one off her season-high recorded at Boise State earlier this season.

Notables: With tonight's win, Eastern improves to 30-17 all-time against Sacramento State.

Thursday's win marks the first time this season that the Eagles have won the opening game of a Big Sky road trip.

Hodgins' 22-point outing marks her 14th career game with 20-or-more points, while it is the 71st double-digit scoring outing of her career.

The 21-point night for Payne marks the sixth game of her career with 20-plus points. It is also her 27th career game with double-figures.

With five 3-point field goals tonight, Eastern has now made at least one 3-point field goal over its last 320 games.

What's Next: The Eagles will look to go a perfect 2-for-2 on this Big Sky road trip, as they take on Portland State on Saturday (Feb. 4). Tip-off from the Rose City is set for 2 p.m. PT. Fans can watch the game live on WatchBigSky.com or on the Watch Big Sky app.

For more information on the Eastern Washington women's basketball team, follow @EWUWBB on Twitter and Instagram or like EWU Women's Basketball on Facebook.

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