Austin, Texas - The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team stuck with No. 19 Northwestern through all four quarters with a chance to win it at the end, but fell just short to the Wildcats, 74-70, in an impressive effort against one of the nation's best, at the Lone Star Showcase in Austin, Texas.
The loss drops EWU to 3-2 on the year, while Northwestern improves to 4-0.
The Eagles started off the game extremely well with an 8-0 run aided by a couple early three pointers; however, the Wildcats countered with a 19-2 run that ended the first quarter 19-10. Not content with being down nine, Eastern started off the second quarter with nine straight points, including four from junior Tisha Phillips and a made three from senior Hayley Hodgins. From here on out the game was a back and forth battle, as no team gave up any leeway. Northwestern found themselves up 33-32 at the halfway mark.
EWU struggled out of the break with 30.8 percent shooting from the field, compared to 52.4 percent for Northwestern in the third quarter. This would lead to a 57-46 Wildcat lead heading into the fourth. Here the Eagles flipped the script of the previous quarter, shooting 53.8 percent from the field including 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc, and 22 combined points from the starters. Eastern fought their way to a three point deficit, 70-67, with 3:00 left in the game.
That score would hold until there was less than a minute left in the game, where the Wildcats extended it 74-67 with 23 seconds left. Junior Ashli Payne gave the team another chance by draining one last three, but it was too little too late for the Eagles.
Hayley Hodgins led the team in scoring with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting and a 4-of-7 clip from three-point range. She added on eight rebounds and two blocks to her stat line.
Ashli Payne had her breakout game for EWU, scoring 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting, with 12 of her 15 coming from the three on 4-of-8 shooting. She also tied for the rebound leading with nine rebounds, and added on three assists.
Junior Tisha Phillips improved from her career high she set against CSUN last week, scoring 15 points, with all points from the field coming off threes. She led the team with four assists and three steals.
Sophomore Delaney Hodgins made her impact defensively with nine rebounds, and a team high three blocks.
Eastern shot 38.6 percent as a team while Northwestern shot 43.2 percent from the field. The Eagles made 11 threes on 40.7 percent shooting from deep, while the Wildcats shot 23.8 percent on five makes.
Northwestern lived in the paint scoring 44 points, as EWU preferred jump shots, scoring only 16 in the paint. The Wildcats also scored 42 points off the fastbreak as Eastern played a slower game with only seven fastbreak points.
Eastern pulled down 45 rebounds compared to the Wildcats' 39. Both teams were even on the offensive glass with 10 each.
The Eagles turned the ball over 25 times and forced Northwestern into 13 miscues. The Wildcats accumulated 20 steals off the EWU turnovers, resulting in 22 points off the mistakes while Eastern scored 12 off Northwestern's turnovers.
Quoting Coach Schuller
"I thought our team played really hard, and we were solid on both ends of the floor in the half court. The turnovers killed us. Northwestern forces around 25 turnovers per game, and that's about how many we had tonight. It's unfortunate, because we did a lot of things right. We were really good on the glass, and we did a lot of good things defensively. I'm very proud of our team. To come in and hold our own against a top-20 team speaks volumes. We now know what we're capable of, and we have to play with this level of intensity all the time."
Dating back to last season, Hayley Hodgins has now scored in double figures in 21 straight games.
This game marked a new career high in points and rebounds for Tisha Phillips, with 15 and nine, respectively.
Eastern will continue its stay at the Lone Star Showcase tomorrow with a game against East Carolina. Tipoff is set for 3:00 p.m. PST.