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Eagles Cruise Past Montana State

Lexie Nelson hits the layup in EWU's win over Montana State on Thursday. Lexie Nelson hits the layup in EWU's win over Montana State on Thursday.

by EWU Athletics

Cheney, Wash. – All five starters scored in double figures as the Eastern Washington women's basketball team cruised past visiting Montana State, 81-66, in a Big Sky Thursday, Feb. 6, at Reese Court.

Eastern (10-10, 6-5 Big Sky) led for the final 37 minutes after Montana State (11-9, 6-5 BSC) opened up a quick 4-0 lead. The Eagles' lead would balloon to as many as 19 early in the second half as the Bobcats got no closer than 10 points over the final 20 minutes.

Senior Aubrey Ashenfelter and junior Melissa Williams each finished with double-doubles as Ashenfelter tallied 16 points while Williams registered 12 points. The duo pulled down 11 rebounds apiece to lead all players.

Junior Lexie Nelson tied Ashenfelter with a team-high 16 points while redshirt sophomoreHayley Hodgins added 15 points and freshman Jade Redmon scored a season-high 14 points.

"It's great to see us sharing the ball like we are," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "We talked all week in practice about moving the ball and not always taking the first shot we get. We wanted to create for each other and I was happy we did that."

EWU shot 52.8 percent for the game after shooting less than 40 percent in its previous two outings. The Eagles drained six three-pointers and went 19-of-25 from the charity stripe.

The Bobcats were held to just 36.7-percent shooting, improving Eastern's record to 6-1 when holding its opponents to less than 40 percent from the floor. MSU knocked down seven three-pointers but took 22 long-range shots to the Eagles' 14.

Eastern did a good job of limiting Montana State to one shot per possession, outrebounding the visitors, 42-29, and only allowing 10 offensive rebounds, seven of which came in the first half. The Eagles got a solid rebounding effort from its guards as Nelson grabbed five boards while Hodgins and Redmon each notched four rebounds apiece.

"We're constantly working on rebounding in practice," Schuller said. "We're doing a lot better job of getting bodies on people and making a concerted effort to box out. We've tried to rebound more as a team, and our guards have gotten involved more recently."

Montana State raced out to a 4-0 lead early in the game on a pair of buckets from Jasmine Hommes. Redmon knocked down a pair of free throws to get the Eagles on the board before Ashenfelter drained a triple off a pass from Nelson to give Eastern a lead it would never relinquish.

Nelson put EWU up 11, 20-9, after a successful trip to the free throw line midway through the first half but the visitors would cut Eastern's lead to three, 22-19, with 9:18 on the clock. The Eagles promptly reeled off a 13-2 run over the next seven minutes before Hodgins buried a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to give EWU a 43-27 halftime advantage.

Eastern committed an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers but limited Montana State to just six points off its miscues. The Eagles did a lot of damage in transition, finishing with 18 fast break points while holding the Bobcats scoreless in the open court.

Hommes led all scorers with 20 points while Ashley Brumwell added 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Eastern is back in action this Saturday, Feb. 8, when Montana visits Reese Court. Saturday's contest is Cancer Awareness Day, and fans that show their pink attire to the ticket booth will receive free admission. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.