Cheney, Wash. - The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team saw its valiant comeback effort fall short Friday night, Dec. 18, dropping a 60-72 decision to visiting Abilene Christian at Reese Court.
EWU drops to 6-5 with the loss, while Abilene Christian improves to 7-2 with the win.
Finding itself behind heading into intermission, Eastern began to show signs of a potential great comeback. Senior Hayley Hodgins sparked the offense with a trio of third quarter three pointers that brought down the deficit to within 10, 53-43 heading into the fourth.
The Eagles saw their shooting improve the deeper they got into the fourth quarter, punctuated by a layup from sophomore Delaney Hodgins, that shrunk the Wildcat lead down to only four points, 59-54, with five minutes remaining. However, this final stretch would prove to be fatal for EWU, as they missed all five of their field goals over those remaining minutes, allowing ACU to pull ahead and ice the game.
Hayley Hodgins led the team in scoring with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting, including five makes from three-point range. She also added on three assists.
Delaney Hodgins recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting, while grabbing 12 total rebounds, including six on offense.
Junior Ashli Payne scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, collecting three rebounds, and two steals in the process.
Sophomore Mariah Cunningham tallied six points and four rebounds in limited minutes. On defense she stole the ball three times.
Eastern shot 35 percent from the field, and 23.1 percent from three-point range, compared to 53.2 percent from the field, and 41.7 percent from three for Abilene Christian.
The Eagles turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 19 points off the turnovers for ACU. The Wildcats had 22 miscues, allowing EWU to score 22 points from those mistakes.
Eastern collected 12 steals and two blocks as a team, compared to 11 steals and five blocks for Abilene Christian.
Quoting Coach Schuller
"We came in to this game knowing Abilene Christian was a good basketball team. Their record indicates it, and they have some wins over good teams. They're an experienced team. We saw them a year ago and thought they were good, and they returned all five starters from that group. I thought they played like the veteran team today and did a nice job of executing their stuff. We knew what they were going to run, but they picked us apart and we did not do a good job of slowing them down. Offensively, I know our execution can be better than it was tonight, and we need to be more on point going forward.
"We're asking a lot of this young group, with long weeks of practices, games and scouting reports. We didn't respond well tonight, and we need to grow in that capacity, but I know we'll get better. You could see us not clicking on all cylinders tonight, and we just didn't have that pep in our step we've had recently."
Delaney Hodgins has now recorded a double-double in two straight games.
Hayley Hodgins has now scored in double figures in 27 straight games dating back to last season, and has 74 career games of at least 10 points. She now has 1,403 career points in 105 career appearances, good for fifth all time in career scoring.
The Eagles remain at home for a game against Boise State, on Monday, Dec. 21. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. PST at Reese Court.