Cheney, Wash. – The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team survived a furious rally from visiting Montana Thursday night, Feb. 5, earning a hard-fought 65-64 win over the Lady Griz in a Big Sky Conference contest at Reese Court.
Eastern improves to 5-4 in conference play and 12-8 overall while Montana suffers just its second loss in Big Sky action, dropping to 8-2 in league play and 15-6 overall.
What It Means
The win continues EWU's best stretch against Montana in series history. The Eagles have now won four of the last six games and have topped the Lady Griz three consecutive times in Cheney, good for the longest home streak against UM in program history.
Tonight's victory also snaps Montana's Big Sky-best seven-game winning streak and puts an end to a four-game skid for Eastern.
In a back-and-forth game that featured seven ties and seven lead changes, it was EWU that went on a game-changing run midway through the second half. With the score tied at 41-41 at the 12:05 mark, freshman Delaney Hodgins finished inside to jumpstart a 12-2 stretch for Eastern that lasted a little more than five minutes.
Montana cut the Eagles' lead to just three, 53-50, with 5:38 remaining, but buckets from sophomore Jade Redmon and junior Hayley Hodgins, followed by a three-pointer from senior Lexie Nelson, gave Eastern an eight-point edge, 60-52, at the 4:05 mark. Neither team would score for nearly three minutes until Redmon finished a lay-up through contact to put EWU back up 10, 62-52, with 1:13 left to play.
The Lady Griz refused to go quietly, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic miscues from the Eagles, who had committed just four turnovers to that point, to get back in the game. Down five with 14 seconds left, the visitors came away with a steal in the backcourt before Kellie Rubel converted a lay-up. Montana came up with another turnover on the ensuing possession, but Rubel elected to shoot a jumper from inside as time expired, allowing Eastern to emerge victorious.
Hayley Hodgins led the Eagles with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, adding three blocked shots, two rebounds and two steals to her stat line.
Redmon added 13 points on nine shots to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.
Delaney Hodgins chipped in 10 points, seven of which came in the second half, and pulled down three key offensive rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.
Nelson scored all nine of her points in the second half, burying three three-pointers. Fellow senior Melissa Williams finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore Marly Anderson made the most of her seven minutes on the floor, tying her season high with six points while grabbing two offensive rebounds.
Eastern shot 40.0 percent from the field on the night, including 46.9 percent in the second half, against the Big Sky's best defensive team. It was the first time in seven games that Montana allowed its opponent to shoot at least 40 percent, and just the fifth time all season.
EWU made four three-pointers and went 9-of-13 from the free throw line while Montana knocked down seven triples but finished 5-of-8 from the charity stripe.
The Lady Griz won the rebounding battle, 44-36, but scored 11 second chance points on 13 offensive boards compared to 10 second chance points for the Eagles on 11 offensive rebounds.
Both teams had 34 points in the paint, respectively, while Eastern's bench outscored Montana's, 10-8.
"I love the fact that we played hard and played for each other. We only turned the ball over seven times, so I thought we played smart and with a lot of energy. I thought our bench was into it, and the crowd was into it. We were getting on the floor after loose balls early on, and that's who we are and what we talked about all week. We didn't talk a lot of X's and O's; we talked about getting back to being tough and unselfish and playing smart basketball, and I thought that's what we did tonight against a very good Montana team.
"I don't think our offensive execution was based on anything special that we did. I think, more than anything, we really tried to focus on moving the ball, not holding it in one place for too long, and being attack-minded. I just felt like we were holding it and looking around and thinking about things too much in our last few games. We just had to get back to playing, and I thought we did a good job of that today."
* The win was just the Eagles' 12th victory over Montana in 74 meetings. Despite a lopsided all-time record, Eastern has won four of the last six and three straight at home.
* EWU is now 7-2 at home this season, and 29-8 at Reese Court over the last three seasons.
* Eastern's 10 bench points are the most in five games. The Eagles' reserves outscored their opponent's bench players for just the third time this season.
* EWU won for the first time in Big Sky play when tied or trailing at half time. Eastern was 0-4 in conference play when tied or trailing at the break entering tonight's game.
* Redmon has now scored in double figures in four straight games, and eight of the Eagles' last nine games.
Tweet of the Night
Eastern welcomes Montana State to Reese Court for a Big Sky counter this Saturday, Feb. 7. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. PT.