Eastern Women Drop Second-Straight at Home with 75-71 Loss to No - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eastern Women Drop Second-Straight at Home with 75-71 Loss to North Dakota


by EWU Athletics

CHENEY, Wash. -- The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team couldn't slow down the Big Sky Conference leader down the stretch on Thursday (Feb. 8), as the Eagles fell to the Fighting Hawks, 75-71, at Reese Court in Big Sky action.

The Eagles, who came into the game looking to gain ground on one of the two teams that currently sit in first place in the league standings, couldn't find the game-tying basket down the stretch, as North Dakota seemingly had a response for every big shot EWU made in the final three minutes of play.

"North Dakota is a really good basketball team and we knew that coming into tonight's game," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "I thought we struggled a bit shooting to ball tonight, especially from behind the arc, and defensively we gave up too much penetration into the lane and they took advantage of it."

A steal in the backcourt by freshman Symone Starks led to a Delaney Hodgins layup that cut UND's lead to one at 66-65 with 3:02 remaining in the game. EWU had a chance to take the lead after North Dakota went 0-for-2 at the free throw line, but the ensuing possession for the Eagles resulted in a turnover, which lead to a Fallyn Freije fast-break layup to put the Hawks back up by three with 2:20 left to play.

Eastern could not cut its margin any closer than three points from that point, as North Dakota went 5-of-8 down the stretch from the free throw line to hand the Eagles a four-point loss at Reese Court.

"They are a really good basketball team, and we had opportunities down the stretch, but we couldn't convert on a couple possessions," said Schuller. "We are improving as a team, and we have to put our best foot forward from here because we have the other first place team coming in on Saturday."

Hodgins led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the Eagles with a game-best 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips recorded 15 points, and pulled down a team-high six rebounds, while senior Ashli Payne and Starks each had 10 points.

Starks put together her best defensive performance of the season on Thursday, as she collected a career-best six steals against the Hawks. She was also one assist shy of her career-best in assists, as the freshman handed out a game-high five helpers.

Win-Loss Records: With the loss, Eastern falls to 13-10 overall on the year and 8-4 in Big Sky play. Meanwhile, North Dakota will maintain a share of first place in the Big Sky Conference with Northern Colorado, as they improve to 11-1 in league play and 16-7 overall.

What It Means: With tonight's loss, Eastern drops back-to-back conference home games for the first time in six seasons. You have to go back to the 2011-12 campaign to find the last time that happened, as the Eagles dropped two-straight contests to Portland State (Feb. 23) and Idaho State (Feb. 25) at Reese Court that season.

Turning Point: A steal in the backcourt by Starks led to an easy layup for Hodgins to bring Eastern to within a point of North Dakota with 3:02 left in game, however that would be as close as the Eagles would get. North Dakota rolled off five-straight points to go back up 70-65 with 1:55 remaining.

A Starks layup pulled EWU within three at 70-67, but North Dakota would convert at the charity stripe just enough down the stretch to thwart Eastern's comeback bid and hand the Eagles a four-point home loss.

Key Stats: Despite the loss, Eastern outshot North Dakota by 0.2 percent from the field (46.6%-46.4%). However, the difference in the game was the 3-point shooting, as the Fighting Hawks hit an even 40 percent (6-of-10) from behind the arc, while EWU posted a 16.7 percent (2-of-12) effort from deep.

North Dakota was able to use its depth to hold a 43-19 edge in points off the bench. Samantha Roscoe scored a game-high 19 points in a reserve role, while Leah Szabla also gave the Hawks a double-digit effort off the bench with 11 points.

Top Performers: Junior Delaney Hodgins scored a game-best 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting. It is her eighth-straight game with double-digit points.

Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips collected 15 points and pulled down a team-best six rebounds on Thursday.

Freshman Symone Starks came off the bench to post a career-best six steals and 10 points in 26 minutes of action.

Notables: With tonight's loss, Eastern's two game-winning streak comes to an end. The Eagles have now dropped two-straight conference home games for the first time since 2011-12.

The Eagles lose a full game in the standings to the three teams they are chasing atop the Big Sky standings, as Northern Colorado, North Dakota and Montana State each picked up a victory on Thursday. Eastern still sits in fourth place by just a half game over Idaho State, who won its fourth-straight game tonight.

Junior Delaney Hodgins picked up her 22nd double-digit scoring outing of the year with a team-best 19 points on Thursday. It is also her 73rd career game with double-digit points.

Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips extended her double-digit scoring streak to six games with her 15-point outing. Tonight's performance was her 35th career game with 10-plus points.

Freshman Symone Starks came off the bench to record 10 points, six steals and five assists. Tonight marks the fourth-time in her young career that she has scored 10-or-more points, while the six steals are a new career-best.

What's Next: The Eagles return to Reese Court on Saturday, as they take on Northern Colorado at 2:05 p.m. PT. Fans catch all the action on WatchBigSky.com or on the Watch Big Sky App.

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