Cheney, Wash. – Down by seven at the half, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team shot 57.7 percent over the final two quarters to earn a hard-fought 68-64 win over visiting Utah Valley Thursday night, Dec. 3.
EWU stays perfect at Reese Court this season and improves to 4-4 with the win while Utah Valley, a team that was receiving votes in the most recent College Insider Mid-Major Poll, falls to 6-3 with the loss.
Eastern struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, shooting just 31.3 percent from the field and scoring 24 points over the opening 20 minutes. The Eagles headed into intermission trailing by seven, 31-24, as UVU shot 41.4 percent as a team over the opening two quarters.
The third quarter was a different story, however, as EWU made its first five shots to take a 35-33 lead at the 7:08 mark. The two teams remained close as the third quarter featured four lead changes and five ties, but sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow's three-pointer with 29 seconds left gave Eastern a 47-36 lead with one quarter left to play.
The Wolverines regained the lead on its first possession of the fourth quarter, but senior Hayley Hodgins answered with a jumper in the paint to put the Eagles on top, 49-48, with 7:42 left. Hayley Hodgins' bucket ignited a 6-0 run for EWU as it led by five, 53-48, at the 6:08 mark.
The visitors would battle back to tie the score at 62-62 with 2:23 remaining only to see sophomore Delaney Hodgins knock down a shot on Eastern's ensuing possession to give the Eagles the lead for good. Sophomore Mariah Cunningham had a key block on a UVU layup with 46 seconds to go before converting inside on EWU's next trip down the court.
Junior Tisha Phillips iced the game for Eastern with two free throws with six seconds left to put EWU up six, 68-62. Utah Valley scored a layup with one second left, resulting in the final four-point margin.
Hayley Hodgins led three Eagles in double figures with 18 points, going 7-of-13 from the field while adding six rebounds and three assists.
Junior Ashli Payne notched her first career double-double, finishing with 16 points and 14 boards. She made three of her six attempts from long range and dished out four assists without a single turnover in 35 minutes.
Delaney Hodgins added 15 points and five rebounds.
Phillips recorded a career-best eight assists to go along with eight points and four rebounds.
Morrow came off the bench and hit a pair of clutch three-pointers, finishing with seven points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.
EWU held Utah Valley 10 points below its average on the season and limited the Wolverines to 3-of-14 shooting from three-point range.
Eastern dished out a season-high 17 assists and committed just 12 turnovers. UVU finished with 12 assists and six miscues.
The Eagles outrebounded the Wolverines, 39-32, and grabbed 10 offensive boards, good for 11 second-chance points.
Quoting Coach Schuller
"This is a real quality win for us. Utah Valley is a very good basketball team. They have a lot of offensive firepower, and they run some really good stuff. We knew they were going to be a tough team to beat. I was disappointed in our offensive production in the first half. I thought we learned a lot in Texas playing against some good basketball teams, and we've had some good practices since we've been back. I thought we were getting good shots, but we just weren't knocking them down. In the second half, I thought we moved the ball more and attacked the rim. We really wanted to try and get to the line and attack some more, but the best stat is 17 assists. That's us sharing the basketball with each other, and I think that we've got a lot of talent on our team, and when we share it, we're pretty good."
EWU is now a perfect 4-0 all-time against Utah Valley. All four of its wins have come under 15-year head coach Wendy Schuller.
Eastern's 23-point third quarter is its second-most points scored in one quarter so far this season. The Eagles poured in 25 points in the opening quarter of their win over Air Force back on Nov. 15.
The Eagles have now won 10 straight games at home dating back to last season.
Hayley Hodgins has now scored in double figures in 24 straight games dating back to last season. She has 71 career games of at least 10 points. She now has 1,335 career points in 102 career appearances.
Eastern will take a break from competition during the university's Finals Week next week before traveling to take on Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, Dec. 13. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. PST.