EWU Women Defeat Hornets in Comeback Fashion - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

EWU Women Defeat Hornets in Comeback Fashion

Haley Hodgins scored 19 points in the Eagles win at Sacramento State on Thursday night. Haley Hodgins scored 19 points in the Eagles win at Sacramento State on Thursday night.

by EWU Athletics

Sacramento, Calif. – The Eastern Washington women's basketball team opened a 22-point advantage in the first half then withstood a furious comeback from host Sacramento State to steal a key road win, 79-73, in Big Sky Conference play on Thursday, Feb. 13, in the Hornets Nest.

Eastern (12-10, 8-5 Big Sky) seemed poised for a runaway victory, opening up a 22-point lead late in the first half after shooting better than 50 percent from the field and knocking down seven three-pointers over the opening 20 minutes.

Sacramento State (15-7, 7-6 BSC) ended the first half on an 8-0 run to cut the Eagles' lead to 14 at the break before crawling all the way back in the second stanza to tie the score at 72-72 with 1:23 remaining. The Eagles were able to get defensive stops on the Hornets' next four possessions while making seven of eight free throws over the final minute to hang on for the win.

"Give Sacramento State a lot of credit for battling back," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "I don't think we were as aggressive in the early part of the second half as we were in the first half, and we didn't take care of the ball as well. As the half progressed, I thought we did a better job and the last five minutes was a solid effort on both ends. When we decide to lock down defensively, we can do special things."

The Eagles never trailed on the night and have now won four consecutive games. Eastern now owns sole possession of fourth place in the Big Sky standings after Idaho State fell at home to Southern Utah earlier tonight.

"It's important to have momentum in February," Schuller said. "We've figured some things out and players have grown into their roles. I think we're better defensively than we were one or two months ago, and we're rebounding better, also. I'm happy with our progress, but I still think there are things we can do to improve in order to reach our peak in March."

Junior Lexie Nelson had a game-high 23 points to lead four Eagles in double-figures. She made four three pointers and finished 8-of-12 from the field.

Redshirt sophomore Hayley Hodgins finished just shy of the 20-point plateau, extending her double-figure scoring streak to 12 games with a 19-point effort. She added eight points and a career-high four blocks to her impressive stat line.

Senior Aubrey Ashenfelter added 14 points and 10 rebounds, collecting her third double-double of the year. Freshman Bethany Montgomery chipped in a season-high 13 points off the bench, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds.

Freshman Jade Redmon led EWU with six assists as Eastern provided helpers on 21 of its 26 made buckets.

EWU shot 52.0 percent from the field on the night, its best shooting performance in a road game this season. The Eagles shot 43.8 percent from downtown, making all seven of its three-pointers in the first half. Eastern also went 20-of-26 from the charity stripe, shooting 17-of-21 in the second half.

Sacramento State shot just 32.4 percent from the field as Eastern's defense frustrated the Hornets' high-scoring attack. CSUS connected on just 23.3 percent of its shots from distance, making 10 of 43 attempts.

The Eagles outrebounded the hosts, 43-38, and held the Hornets to just 16 second chance points despite allowing 18 offensive rebounds. Eastern turned the ball over 24 times to the tune of 21 points for CSUS while Sacramento State committed 15 miscues.

Eastern simply could not miss in the early going, knocking down its first five shots to open up a 15-5 lead less than five minutes into the game. Hodgins buried consecutive three-pointers as the Eagles opened up a 12-point advantage, 23-11, with 13:24 on the clock, but the hosts answered with a quick 5-0 run to pull to within seven, 23-16, at the 11:30 mark.

The Eagles took off from there, reeling off a 19-4 run over the next eight minutes to open up a 22-point lead, 42-20, with 3:10 left in the half. Nelson had nine points in the stretch, burying two three-pointers and converting a three-point play. The Hornets were held scoreless for nearly six minutes as the hosts shot just 23 percent in the first half.

Sacramento State was able to get some momentum back before the break, ending the half on an 8-0 run to cut Eastern's lead to 14, 42-28, heading into the locker room.

The hosts continued to crawl back early in the second half, pulling to within two, 56-54, with 10:18 remaining. The Eagles answered with a run of their own, using four free throws from Redmon and a bucket from Nelson to go back up seven, 65-58, at the 6:55 mark.

The Hornets had one final run in them, scoring 12 of the next 19 points to even things at 72-72 with less that a minute left. Eastern drained its free throws down the stretch and came up with crucial defensive stops to hold off CSUS for the win.

Eastern concludes its weekend with a Big Sky counter at Northern Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 13. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. PST and can be seen regionally on Fox Sports Arizona.

  • College

    • Washington State ranked No. 24 in AP preseason poll

      The Washington State football team will begin the season with a No. 24 ranking in the 2017 Associated Press preseason poll, released Monday. The Cougars' are one of four Pac-12 teams ranked in the Top 25 and it marks the third time in the history of the Associated Press poll.

    • Defense dominates in Eastern's first Fall scrimmage

      There were only compliments being passed around after Eastern Washington University defensive units held EWU's vaunted offense without a touchdown in EWU's 72-play scrimmage Saturday at Roos Field.

    • Griz offense shines in second scrimmage of fall camp

      The Montana Grizzly defense might have stolen the show last week in the first scrimmage of fall camp. But the offense would not be denied Saturday as they racked up 24 first downs and nearly 400 yards of total offense.  

    • Vandals to host open scrimmage on Saturday

      Idaho football will wrap up fall camp Saturday (Aug. 19), with a scrimmage at 10 a.m. in the Kibbie Dome. The scrimmage is open to the public and will be the final chance for fans to see the Vandals in action before the season opener Aug. 31, against Sacramento State.
    • Danielle Mauldin joins Eagles women's basketball coaching staff

      Mauldin is Saint Mary's and the West Coast Conference's all-time leading rebounder with 1,282 over four years and also set a SMC program record for double-doubles.

    • Zags women’s soccer home match versus BYU on ESPNU

      Gonzaga will host preseason No. 8 BYU from Luger Field in a meeting that will have first-year GU head coach Chris Watkins facing his former school.

    • Gonzaga women's soccer begins regular season Friday

      The Zags are unbeaten in their last five season-openers, dating back to the 3-1 win over South Dakota in 2012. GU beat Nevada in Hawaii in last season’s opener, 1-0.

    • Jake Browning named to Manning Award watch list

      Browning was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting after passing for 3,430 yards and a Pac-12, record-tying 43 touchdowns in 2016.

    • Vandals QB Linehan named to Manning Award watch list

      Linehan threw for 3,184 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, earning second-team All-Sun Belt honors. He also went on to capture the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Most Valuable Player award, after leading the Vandals to a win over Colorado State.

    • Luke Falk named to Manning Award watch list

      Falk, a redshirt-senior, was also finalist for the Johnny Unitas Award and a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award last season after throwing for the third-most yards in the country (4,468) and tying his own school-record with 38 touchdown passes.