Seniors Lead Eastern to a Victory Over Northern Arizona in Regul - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Seniors Lead Eastern to a Victory Over Northern Arizona in Regular Season Finale

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

by EWU Athletics

CHENEY, Wash. -- It was the seniors leading the way for the Eastern Washington women's basketball team on Senior Night at Reese Court, as the duo of Ashli Payne and Tisha Phillips combined to score 41 points to lift the Eagles to an important 79-64 Big Sky Conference victory over Northern Arizona on the final day of the 2016-17 regular season.

With the win, Eastern Washington clinches the fourth, and final, bye of next week's Big Sky Tournament in Reno, Nevada. The Eagles end the 2016-17 Big Sky regular season with a 12-6 mark, as they become team in the Big Sky to collect double-digit conference wins in each of the last six seasons.

Phillips and Payne led the charge for the Eagles in their final game at Reese Court, as Phillips scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, while Payne, who had to battle through foul trouble all night, scored 18 points in 29 minutes of play.

"It's always fun when seniors go out the way you draw it up," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "I thought both of them were playing extremely hard from the get go. They were really trying to dictate the pace and the tempo tonight. It was a lot of fun to watch them and it was great to see them grab the bull by the horns and lead us to a big win."

The Eagles led from beginning-to-end in Friday's (March 3) contest, as Phillips opened the night with a scoop and score. Eastern led by as many as eight points in the first quarter, and built 14-point lead with 33 seconds before halftime before taking an 11-point advantage into the half.

EWU led by as many as 19 points in the third, but Northern Arizona fought back to within nine points at 57-48 entering the fourth. Eastern would open the night's final frame on a 10-2 run to retake a 17-point. The Eagles maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of game, as they collected a 15-point win in their regular season finale.

Eastern Washington hit nine of its 15 shots for a 60 percent field goal percentage in the fourth quarter, which helped the Eagles post a 44.9 percent mark for the game.

"We just tried to use that time between the third and fourth quarter to regain our focus," said Schuller of her team's fourth quarter performance. "This was the quarter that we wanted to put everything together and I thought we did a great job of that."

Win-Loss Records: The Eagles end the regular season with a 17-12 overall record and 12-6 in the Big Sky Conference. As for Northern Arizona, they conclude the 2016-17 regular season with a 9-20 overall mark and 5-13 in the Big Sky.

What It Means: With tonight's win, the Eagles secure the fourth and final bye of next week's Big Sky Tournament in Reno, Nevada. Eastern will open the Tournament on Wednesday, March 8.

Turning Point: Eastern Washington opened the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run to turn a nine-point lead into a 17-point advantage with 7:20 left to play in the game. The Eagles shot a blistering 60 percent (9-of-15) from the field in tonight's final frame.

Key Stats: Eastern took extremely good care of the ball tonight, as they committed a season-low seven turnovers. The Eagles forced Northern Arizona into 11 turnovers on the night, as they held a 16-9 edge in points off turnovers. The extra possessions allowed EWU to take 14 more shots than the Lumberjacks on the night.

Top Performers: Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting. She nailed a team-high three 3-pointers against the Lumberjacks and pulled down five rebounds on the night.

Senior Ashli Payne posted 18 points and pulled down four caroms in 29 minutes of action tonight. The forward also went a perfect 5-of-5 at the free throw line.

Junior Delaney Hodgins collected 14 points and matched sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow for the team lead in assists with four. Hodgins also collected six rebounds against Northern Arizona.

Sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow had an efficient stat line tonight, as she scored nine points, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and tied for the team lead in assists with four.

Notables: With tonight's win, Eastern Washington concludes the regular season with a 17-12 overall record. This year marks Eastern's sixth-straight season with a winning record.

The Eagles conclude the regular season with an 8-4 mark at Reese Court.

Tonight's 23-point performance from redshirt senior Tisha Phillips marks the seventh time in her career that she has scored 20-or-more points in a game.

Senior Ashli Payne posted her 33rd career game with double-digit points with an 18-point effort against Northern Arizona.

Junior Delaney Hodgins extended her double-digit scoring streak to 14-straight games with a 14-point performance tonight.

What's Next: Eastern Washington will open the 2017 Big Sky Tournament on Wednesday, March 8, in Reno, Nevada. The No. 4-seeded Eagles will play the winner of the No. 5 Idaho vs. No. 12 Southern Utah at 1:30 p.m. PT at the Reno Events Center.

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