Missoula, Mont. – Despite a strong start, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team was unable to sustain its early momentum, falling to host Montana, 69-59, Saturday, Feb. 28, in a Big Sky Conference game at Dahlberg Arena.
Eastern drops to 10-6 in Big Sky play and 17-10 overall while Montana improves to 14-3 in league games and 21-7 overall.
What It Means
The victory gives Montana hosting rights for the upcoming Big Sky Tournament, held from Mar. 12-14. EWU entered today's game in second place in the league standings, but now sits third after Sacramento State's win earlier today.
If Northern Colorado defeats Northern Arizona later tonight, the Eagles would find themselves in fourth place in the conference standings with one week of games remaining.
EWU came out strong, opening up a nine-point advantage, 23-14, on a bucket from senior Lexie Nelson at the 8:03 mark. Montana answered with a 19-6 run to close the first half, taking a 33-29 lead into intermission.
A jumper from Delaney Hodgins brought EWU to within two, 33-31, on its first possession of the second stanza, but the Lady Griz reeled off 16 of the next 24 points to gain a 49-39 advantage with 13:47 left. Eastern would pull to within seven, 56-49, on a jumper from Anderson at the 8:33 mark but would get no closer the rest of the way as Montana converted its free throws down the stretch.
Delaney Hodgins scored a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, knocking down a pair of three-pointers. She did a little bit of everything on the day, adding four rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocked shots to her stat line.
Hayley Hodgins registered 14 points and pulled down four rebounds.
Williams saw her streak of four consecutive double-doubles come to an end, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds while picking up two steals.
Redmon chipped in six points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Eastern shot just 34.4 percent from the field and was 3-of-15 from three-point range. Montana connected at a 44.1-percent clip on the day.
The Lady Griz outrebounded EWU, 45-35, and recorded 17 second chance points to the Eagles' nine.
EWU turned the ball over just nine times compared to 13 miscues for Montana.
"I thought our effort and energy were really good, especially to start the game. We came out focused, and we were really good offensively. I thought we played loose and played the type of basketball we're capable of playing early in the game. It seemed like we didn't come out with that same energy to start the second half and we dug ourselves a tiny hole and you can't do that against a team like Montana. Every time we hit a basket to cut into their lead, they would make a big shot. I felt like we got good looks today and last Thursday. We just need to knock those down.
"Finishing the regular season strong is the most important thing for us right now. We're going to come back to work on Monday with the goal of getting a new winning streak started. We want to take care of business at home, have a great senior day on Saturday and go into the Big Sky Tournament on a high note. There's still a lot to be determined, which will make this last week of games very interesting."
* Eastern had not shot below 35 percent from the field in consecutive games prior to this weekend. EWU shot 33.3 percent last Thursday, Feb. 26, against Montana State.
* This week's losses prevented the Eagles from recording their third Big Sky road sweep of the season. Eastern ends conference play with two road sweeps, doing so for the first time since its 2011-12 campaign.
Tweet of the Game
The Eagles close out their regular season with a pair of Big Sky games at Reese Court next week, beginning Thursday, Mar. 3, against Idaho State. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. PT.