Eagles advance to Big Sky semifinals after beating Idaho 73-64 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles advance to Big Sky semifinals after beating Idaho 73-64

Courtesy: EWU Athletics Courtesy: EWU Athletics

By EWU Athletics
RENO, Nev. -- No. 4 seed Eastern Washington knocked off No. 5 seed Idaho, 73-64, on Wednesday (March 8) to advance to the Big Sky Tournament Semifinals on Friday. The Eagles were paced by a 23-point performance from junior Delaney Hodgins in a game they never trailed in.

With the win, Eastern Washington advances to its ninth Big Sky Tournament Semifinal under head coach Wendy Schuller. The Eagles defense limited the defending Big Sky champions to a 35.9 percent from the field. Eastern limited a hot-shooting Vandal team to just 29 percent (9-of-31) from behind the arc on Wednesday en route to the victory.

"I'm really happy for our team. The entire group played extremely hard and with a lot of heart today," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "We've been in Reno for a while now, and I was a little concerned that we may be lethargic, but we weren't. I love the fact that we had 16 assists on 25 made baskets. That shows that we were really sharing the ball and getting a lot of people involved today. This team is really focused on getting to the Championship."

The Eagles will face Montana State this Friday (March 10) in the first game of the Big Sky Tournament Semifinals at 12:35 p.m. PT. Eastern will be seeking its first-ever Big Sky Championship game appearance under Schuller and its first since 1988.

Hodgins put on a show in her first game in Reno, as the All-Big Sky first team selection scored 23 points and shot a blistering-hot 60 percent from the field (9-of-15). The junior also drilled a team-high three 3-point field goals and pulled down seven rebounds to go along with a team-best four assists.

Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips, who was named to the All-Big Sky second team earlier this week, followed Hodgins with 19 points and three assists.

"I thought our Big Three all played well today. Delaney stepped up and made some big shots for us. Tisha drew the hardest assignment of the day, between having to guard Mikayla Ferenz and having the Defensive Player of the Year in Karlee Wilson guarding her. She was really, really good today."

Sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow scored 15 points on the day, as the Tacoma, Washington native drilled a career-high three 3-pointers. In total, EWU made 11 3-point field goals on the day. Coming into today's game, Morrow had not made more than one 3-point field goal in a game and was a 20.8 percent shooter from behind the arc on the year.

"I think this time of year, you have to have more than your marquee players step up for you, and Kapri was that for us today," said Schuller of Morrow's effort "She has been in the lineup all year because she plays great defense, but she has worked hard on her 3-point shot all year and it is for moments like this."

Eastern came out of the gates swinging on Wednesday, as they started the game on an 8-0 run. Idaho began to fight back, as they cut the Eagles lead to 15-8 after one quarter of play.

EWU busted the game open in the second quarter, as a 13-3 run gave the Eagles a 33-20 lead with 3:44 remaining in the frame. Morrow did most of her damage during the run, as she scored eight points with a pair of free throws and a couple of 3-point baskets.

Idaho looked as if they were about to make a run late in the third quarter, as they pulled within five, but Morrow would go on a personal 5-0 run to push the Eagles lead back out to 10 entering the final quarter of play.

Hodgins would take over in the fourth, as she scored seven points in the frame to preserve Eastern's lead. The Eagles never trailed in Wednesday's nine-point victory.

Win-Loss Records: The Eagles improve to 18-12 overall this season, while Idaho ends its season at 16-14.

What It Means: With a win, Eastern Washington advances to Friday's Big Sky Tournament Semifinals against Montana State. The Eagles are now the only team to advance to the semifinal round of the Big Sky Tournament in each of the past three seasons.

Turning Point: Eastern Washington never trailed in Wednesday's Quarterfinal matchup, but they opened the game in the third quarter thanks to a 13-3 run that gave the Eagles a 33-20 lead with 3:44 left to play in frame.

Key Stats: The Eagles held a 49-34 edge on the glass against the Vandals. Eastern grabbed 14 offensive caroms in the game, which led to 12 second-chance points for the Eagles.

Eastern drilled 11 3-pointers against Idaho on Wednesday. All 11 buckets came in the first three quarters of play, as the Eagles shot 44 percent (11-of-25) from behind the arc and limited Idaho to just 29 percent (9-of-31) from three.

Top Performers: Junior Delaney Hodgins scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 (60%) shooting from the field. She also pulled down seven rebounds and tied for the team lead in assists with four. She hit a team-best four 3-point field goals.

Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips recorded 19 points and dished out three assists on Wednesday. She also picked up a game-best two steals.

Sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow sank a career-high three 3-point field goals en route to a 15-point night.

Senior Ashli Payne pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds and handed out a pair of assists in 32 minutes of action.

Notables: Eastern Washington advances to its ninth Big Sky Tournament Semifinal under head coach Wendy Schuller. Eastern is now the only team in the Big Sky to advance to the conference semifinals in each of the last three seasons.

With the win, Eastern now trails Idaho by just two games in the all-time series, as the Vandals hold a 33-31 advantage against the Eagles.

Junior Delaney Hodgins extends her double-digit scoring streak to 15 games with a team-high 23-point outing.

Today's 23-point performance marks the 17th career game with 20 points, while it is her 80th career contest with 10-plus points.

Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips recorded her 39th career double-digit scoring game with 19 points.

The three 3-point field goals by sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow is a new career high for the Tacoma, Washington native.

The Big Sky will have a new conference champion this season, as the Vandals won last season's Big Sky Tournament.

What's Next: The Eagles will now take on No. 1-seeded Montana State in the Big Sky Tournament Semifinals on Friday (March 10) at 12:30 p.m. PT. The Bobcats swept a pair of regular season meetings against the Eagles, as they picked up an 88-83 overtime win in Bozeman back on Jan. 5, then picked up a 72-61 victory in Cheney on Jan. 28.

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

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