Cheney, Wash. – Senior Melissa Williams recorded her third consecutive double-double as the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team won its sixth straight game, topping Northern Arizona, 73-42, in a Big Sky Conference contest at Reese Court Saturday, Feb. 21.
Eastern improves to 10-4 in the Big Sky and 17-8 overall while Northern Arizona drops to 7-7 in league play and 11-14 overall.
What It Means
The victory gives EWU its sixth consecutive victory and keeps the Eagles in the running for a Big Sky regular season title with two weeks left.
Eastern sits alone in second place in the conference standings, just 1.5 games back of league-leading Montana. The two squads will square off in Missoula, Mont., next Saturday, Feb. 28.
EWU has now won at least 16 games in each of the last four seasons after reaching that mark in just seven of its previous 29 seasons as an NCAA Division I member.
Williams also becomes the winningest player under head coach Wendy Schuller. She now has 68 career victories, passing the 2012-13 graduating class that finished with 67 career wins.
NAU's Rene Coggins connected on a three-pointer at the 16:53 mark of the first half to give the Lumberjacks an early 9-7 lead, but a triple from senior Lexie Nelson put Eastern back on top for good with 15:03 on the clock. Nelson's bucket ignited a 17-6 run over the next 11 minutes that put EWU ahead, 27-15.
The visitors managed to cut the Eagles' lead to 10 twice more in the first half, but Nelson made a short jumper in the paint as the first-half buzzer sounded, spotting Eastern a 35-21 advantage at the break.
EWU held Northern Arizona to 25.8 percent shooting in the first half, including a 1-of-6 performance from three-point range.
A quick from the Lumberjacks brought them within nine, 41-32, with 16:50 left to play, but they would get no closer as Eastern reeled off 19 of the next 26 points to take a 21-point lead, 60-39, at the 9:08 mark. It was smooth sailing the rest of the way for the Eagles as EWU's reserves closed the game out.
Junior Hayley Hodgins finished with a game-high 19 points for the second straight time, going 3-of-4 from long range and 7-of-12 from the field.
Williams was nearly unstoppable inside, notching 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
Nelson joined the two in double figures with 14 points, burying pair of three pointers while dishing out three assists.
Freshman Delaney Hodgins went 4-of-5 from the floor en route to nine points, adding three rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots to her stat line.
Sophomore Jade Redmon chipped in with eight points, four rebounds, all of which came on the offensive end, and two steals.
Sophomore Marly Anderson came off the bench to finish with five rebounds and three rejections in 17 minutes of playing time while classmate Tisha Phillips pulled down six boards in 13 minutes of spot duty.
Eastern's defense limited Northern Arizona to just 42 points and 27.1 percent shooting on the day, including 3-of-14 from beyond the arc. The Lumberjacks' 42 points are the second-fewest EWU has allowed this season, tied with Georgia Southern's 42 points back on Dec. 21.
The Eagles shot 49.2 percent from the field and a blistering 58.3 percent from three-point range (7-12).
EWU outrebounded Northern Arizona, 42-37, and forced the visitors into 18 turnovers while committing just 13 miscues.
"In the last few games, we've really picked it up defensively. We've been able to get our offense going with some defensive energy. The other piece to that is rebounding and finishing possessions. We've been pretty good defensively, but when you give up offensive boards, it makes you look bad defensively. For us to outrebounded another opponent is a big deal and helps our efforts.
"With just two weeks left, we have to take every day as it comes and continue to work hard and get better. I think we still have areas, both defensively and offensively, where we can improve. We're going to have our hands full for these next four games, so we'll take them one at a time, starting with practice on Monday."
* EWU's current six-game winning streak marks the first time in the program's NCAA Division I history that it has recorded two winning streaks of at least six games in the same season.
* Eastern held a Big Sky opponent to less than 50 points for the first time since Sacramento State scored 49 points back on Feb. 7, 2013, a stretch of 41 games.
* Williams now has 14 career double-doubles, nine of which have come this season. She averaged 14.5 points and 10.0 rebounds this week while shooting 70.0 percent from the field (14-20).
Tweet of the Game
EWU hits the road for the last time during the regular season for a pair of Big Sky games against the Montana schools. Eastern opens the week at Montana State on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. PT.