Eagles pick up historic win over Montana, 75-72 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eagles pick up historic win over Montana, 75-72

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By Eastern Washington Athletics

MISSOULA, Mont. – For only the fifth time in program history, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team topped the Montana Grizzlies on the road in Missoula on Thursday night (Feb. 15). The win was even more special, as it marked head coach Wendy Schuller's 250th career victory at Eastern.
 
"I'm really proud of our team tonight. We had a lot of elements going against us all night and I thought our team was gritty and resilient for 40 minutes," said Schuller. "Montana played well and kept hitting big shots and we responded each time. And, to end our game and find out the men won made the night that much sweeter."
 
The Eagles led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter, but hung on to a 75-72 victory that was close until the final seconds. Eastern Washington was led by three in double figures in Delaney Hodgins (24), Symone Starks (15) and Violet Kapri Morrow (14). Uriah Howard added nine points, while Hodgins grabbed seven rebounds.
 
As a team, the Eagles knocked down 11 three-pointers, shooting 52.4 percent from behind the arc on the night with Hodgins and Starks each draining three apiece. From the field, the Eagles shot 47.3 percent on 26-for-55 shooting to go along with 17 assists. They also had 14 steals.
 
Foul trouble riddled the Eagles, who committed 28 on the night and allowed Montana to make 19-for-31 from the line. The Griz shot 48 percent from the field, but only 9.1 percent (1-11) from behind the arc.
 
Eastern's offensive exploded in the first quarter, going on a 14-4 run on 6-for-7 shooting to lead by 10 early on. The Eagles held Montana without a field goal for the final eight minutes of quarter and shot 64 percent from the field.
 
Montana would heat up in the second quarter, cutting Eastern's lead to single digits before the Eagles went on a 5-0 spurt. The Grizzlies took 20 free throw attempts in the first half, as 14 of their 30 first half points were from the charity stripe. Montana hit 5-for-5 from field goal range, but the Eagles' 11 steals helped them carry a 34-30 lead into the locker room.
 
The Eagles drained five three pointers during the third quarter to help keep Montana away. The Griz used an 8-0 run early in the third quarter, but the Eagles were able to keep them without a field goal for the final three minutes to lead by 10 with one quarter to go.
 
Montana clawed back in the fourth, using a 6-0 run to come within one point. However, they would go cold on 1-for-7 shooting while Eastern shot 50 percent from the field. Leading 75-70 with five seconds to go, UM capitalized on a jumper but the late comeback wasn't enough as the Eagles picked up the crucial Big Sky Conference road victory.  
 
WIN-LOSS RECORDS: The Eagles now improve to 13-12 overall and 8-5 in the Big Sky. Montana drops to 12-13 and 8-6. This is only the fifth-ever victory for the Eagles in Dahlberg Arena, moving the series history to 16-64 in Montana's favor. This is the second straight win for Eastern over Montana and the only time the two foes meet in the regular season.
 
TOP PERFORMERS: Violet Kapri Morrow (11) and Delaney Hodgins (21) continued their double digit scoring streaks with 14 and 24 points, respectively. Symone Starks added 15 followed by Uriah Howard who had nine. Hodgins had seven rebounds, four assists and five steals. Mariah Cunningham had six rebounds to go with six points. Starks also had five steals and five assists.
 
KEY STATISITICS: Eastern Washington led for 38:07 and scored 21 points off turnovers. However, the Griz outrebounded the Eagles 36-26. EWU shot 47.3 percent from the field compared to Montana's 48.1 percent. Eastern recorded 14 steals and 17 assists, while going 12-for-16 from the free throw line.
 
ROAD TO 2,000: After scoring 24 points tonight, Eastern's all-time leading scorer Delaney Hodgins, now has 1,946 career points. The total places her fifth on the Big Sky's all-time list as she looks to become just the fourth player in conference history to surpass 2,000 points. She is just 13 points away from fourth. The all-time record is 2,296 set by Natalie Doma from Idaho State (2004-08).
 
UP NEXT: After playing at Montana State this Saturday (Feb. 17) at 1 p.m. PT, Eastern Washington returns to Cheney for its final home stand of the season as they play host to Weber State on Feb. 22 at 6:05 pm. On Saturday, seniors Delaney Hodgins and Mariah Cunningham will be honored for their decorated four years at Eastern for Senior Day against Idaho State at 2:05 pm.

SENIOR CLASS AWARD: After being named a candidate on Jan. 4, Eastern Washington University forward Delaney Hodgins has been selected as one of just ten women's basketball seniors across Division I to be named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. She is the only member of the Big Sky Conference to be selected to the list.
 
From now until March 19, fans can vote for Hodgins at the link below to select her as the winner. Fan votes count for 1/3 of the total and the other 2/3 is determined by NCAA Division I coaches and national media members. VOTE HERE.

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