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EWU Women’s Basketball Fight to Secure First-round Bye in Big Sky Conference

By Brandon Cline, Sports Editor

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With only two regular season conference games left on the schedule, the EWU women’s basketball team is painstakingly close to securing a coveted first-round bye in the Big Sky Conference (BSC) Tournament.

The Eagles’ efforts to secure a bye were replenished this past weekend, with the team sweeping the Weber State Wildcats and the Idaho State Bengals on a roadtrip to improve to 11-5 in BSC play. Heading into the final two games of the regular season, the Eagles sit in fourth place in the conference standings, a game ahead of the Bengals and the Idaho Vandals. The top four teams at the end of the regular season earn a bye to the quarterfinals in the BSC Tournament.

Against the Wildcats on Feb. 23, EWU dominated from the get-go in a 70-42 demolishing. The Eagles were incredibly balanced offensively, with senior forward Ashli Payne leading the team in scoring with just 11 points. In total, 11 of the 12 players on the team scored in the game, and 10 of the 12 players recorded at least 10 minutes of playing time.

EWU’s defense stifled the Weber State offense all game, holding the Wildcats to 31.6 percent shooting (18-57) from the field and 8.7 percent shooting (2-23) from three-point range. The Wildcats scored only eight points in the first quarter of the game and just four points in the third quarter.

“We were really pleased with our defensive effort and I thought offensively we really shared the ball well and got everyone involved inside and out,” head coach Wendy Schuller said.

The Eagles’ game against Idaho State on Feb. 25 was the polar opposite of their game two days earlier. Both teams entered the game with a 10-5 conference record, meaning the winner would leave with a one-game edge over the other with just two regular season games remaining.

It was EWU who ultimately prevailed, defeating the Bengals 61-58 in a back-and-forth contest. The Eagles trailed 24-28 at halftime, despite shooting over 40 percent from the field and making four of their six three-point attempts.

The Eagles continued their hot shooting from beyond the arc in the second half, making five of their nine attempts while also attempting 20 free throws, compared to just the two free throws Idaho State attempted in the half.

Junior forward Delaney Hodgins finished with 20 points on just 11 field goal attempts, making four of her six three-point attempts. Payne scored 15 points in the game, making three of her four shots from beyond the arc.

For the weekend, the Eagles shot 50 percent (15-30) on three-point attempts, while their opponents shot just 18.2 percent (8-44) from the perimeter.

“This trip really makes us feel good about our chances in the next couple of weeks,” said Schuller. “We know what we are a capable of when we play together, and we are going to have to do that down the stretch.”

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The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.
EWU Women’s Basketball Fight to Secure First-round Bye in Big Sky Conference