Eastern women fall at Gonzaga, hit road for Vegas
Eagles win some battles, make improvements
Eastern Washington freshman Bethany Montgomery drives to the basket last Wednesday at Gonzaga where she came off the bench and scored eight points in EWU's 78-58 loss to the Bulldogs.
Eastern Washington knew going into their non-conference women's basketball game last Wednesday at McCarthy Center in Spokane against No. 25 Gonzaga that they were giving up a height advantage.
However, Eagles' coach Wendy Schuller knew her team had ways to counter. But Eastern didn't go to their Plan-B, either, falling 78-58 and seeing their record dipped to 0-3.
Gonzaga (3-1) proved tough on Eastern's outside shooting, did a good job in the paint and forced the Eagles into 20 turnovers.
"They did a great job – GU did – of taking away our primary ways we are able to get shots for some of our perimeter kids," Schuller said. "That being said, I was frustrated with ourselves execution-wise. Those aren't the only ways that we have in place in our system to get ourselves open for perimeter shots."
After Laura Hughes opened the game with short jumper and then a tough basket inside to give the Eagles a brief 4-2 lead with 17 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the half, Gonzaga went on an 11-2 run to take a lead that the Bulldogs would never lose and rarely be challenged the rest of the way.
Gonzaga built an 18-9 lead before Lexie Nelson's four straight points and a jumper from Bethany Montgomery allowed the Eagles to close to within three at 18-15, but then outscored Eastern 19-9 to close out the half with a 37-24 lead.
As Gonzaga toyed with taking a 20-point lead five minutes into the second half, Eastern made another attempt to get back into the game outscoring the Bulldogs 9-2, the last an Aubrey Ashenfelter jumper that made it 48-39.
Montgomery then took advantage of an Ashenfelter steal, breaking out and pulling up for a long 3 at the top of the arc that rattled off the iron. Gonzaga went the other way getting a basket from Kiara Kudron that fueled a 15-5 run to essentially seal it.
"I thought it was a good shot, I thought it was gutsy," Schuller said of the Montgomery's attempt that would have cut it to six.
GU's Haiden Palmer led all scorers with 25 points while Hughes had a career-high 18 to lead Eastern. Nelson added 17.
A good takeaway from Gonzaga for the Eagles, who hit the road for games in Las Vegas versus Iowa State (Nov. 29) and Butler (Nov. 30) in the Southpoint shootout was improved rebounding. The Bulldogs' starting 6-footers, Sunny Greinacher and Shelby Cheslek, were limited to just six boards.
"I was pleased with our rebounding, we've been getting our butt's kicked on the boards the other previous games that we've played," Schuller said.
And while she watched her team remain winless in the early going of the preseason, Schuller said, "You know, it's one game," and that the parts are getting put together for when it counts.
"If we get better at something every day, by the time we get to the end of December, the beginning of January, hopefully we're doing a lot of things a lot better than we are now," she said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.