Cheney, Wash. – Trailing by 10 points with eight minutes left, the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team completed a furious comeback for a 60-57 win over Big Sky conference opponent North Dakota, on Saturday, Jan. 2.
EWU improves to 8-6 with the win and 2-0 in league play, while North Dakota drops to 4-9 with the loss and 0-2 in league play.
The Eagles got off to a slow start in the first half, shooting an uncharacteristic 33.3 percent from the field, and turning the ball over nine times. With North Dakota finding a groove and shooting 42.3 percent, Eastern found itself down 30-22 at half.
The second half was a different story, however, as the defense started to make plays and provide more opportunities for the team. While EWU still shot 32.4 percent in this half, they began to capitalize off second chance opportunities, collecting 11 offensive rebounds in the half, nearly double that of UND. They also began to play smart, only turning the ball over five times all half, while forcing 15 North Dakota turnovers.
The bulk of the comeback came from a 12-0 run that spanned four minutes of the fourth quarter. Down 52-42, the Eagles marched through the Fighting Hawks' defense leading up to junior Ashli Payne drilling a three-pointer to take the lead, 54-52, with 3:27 left in the game. A late three with 52 seconds left in the game put North Dakota back in the lead 57-56. Sophomore Delaney Hodgins quickly countered the Fighting Hawks' score with a jumper of her own, taking the lead for Eastern one last time. The defense finally closed the door on UND after a steal by Senior Hayley Hodgins with five seconds left prevented any chance of a game tying shot, giving the Eagles the victory.
Delaney Hodgins led the team in scoring while also recording her third double-double of the season. She scored 21 points on 7-of-20 shooting, and grabbing a career high 14 rebounds, including 6 offensive boards. She blocked three shots as well.
Hayley Hodgins scored 11 points, while collecting four rebounds and two steals.
Ashli Payne scored eight points, and tallied six rebounds. She also blocked a shot and stole the ball twice.
EWU finished the game shooting 32.8 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three-point range, while UND shot 42.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
The Eagles shot the ball 15 more times than the Fighting Hawks at 21-of-64 shooting compared to 21-of-49.
Eastern grabbed 35 rebounds and 16 offensive rebounds to North Dakota's 40 total and 11 offensive. EWU scored 11 points off second opportunities, while UND scored five.
The Eagles forced 25 North Dakota turnovers, resulting in 21 points off turnovers, while the Fighting Hawks forced 14 Eastern miscues and scored six points off the mistakes.
Quoting Coach Schuller
"After the game, I told the team in the locker room that we have a lot of basketball stuff we need to continue to improve on, but it's hard to teach guts, grit, and that fight to not give up and step up and make plays when needed. It was definitely a team effort tonight, with players getting offensive boards, blocking shots, making shots and everything else. I know I'm exhausted. We didn't play our best basketball this weekend, but to come out of it with two wins against physical, tough teams is a really positive thing. We know the Big Sky is a long haul, and it's so important to take care of business at home. We talked about that all throughout the week, and I'm proud of us for doing so. Now it's time to turn the page, get a day of rest and move forward."
Delaney Hodgins recorded her third double-double of the season, and a new career high in rebounds with 14.
Hayley Hodgins has now scored in double figures in 30 straight games dating back to last season, and has 77 career games of at least 10 points. She now has 1,457 career points in 108 career appearances, good for third all time in career scoring.
The Eagles leave home to battle Idaho on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. PST.