Eastern women return to Reese for long home stand
The Eastern Washington women’s basketball team’s most recent road trip came up empty as they went winless in a pair of games last weekend in Las Vegas.
Now Eastern will be home through the entire month of December and into the first week of 2014 with a seven-game home stand shooting to get momentum heading into conference play.
The Eagles were unable to overcome a nine-minute scoring drought spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second, falling, 74-51, to Butler last Saturday, Nov. 30 in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas.
In the opening game of the tournament the Eagles fell to the 23rd ranked Iowa State Cyclones 88-60.
Sophomore Hayley Hodgins led the Eagles with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, finishing a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line. Junior Lexie Nelson registered 12 points, connecting on a pair of three-pointers. Junior Melissa Williams grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with eight points.
“We faced a pair of high-quality opponents this weekend in Iowa State and Butler,” head coach Wendy Schuller said. “These games are ones you hope pay off when Big Sky play comes around, knowing we’ve been in adverse situations against tough teams.”
Butler (3-4) raced out to an early lead but buckets from Nelson and Hodgins kept Eastern (0-5) close in the early going. Down by six, 12-6, at the 15:59 mark, EWU reeled off a 13-4 run over the next three minutes thanks largely to two triples from Nelson and a three-pointer from Hodgins.
The Bulldogs tied the score at 22-22 and went on to take a 39-30 lead into halftime. Butler continued its unanswered run into the second stanza, opening up a 23-point lead, 53-30, through the first six minutes.
The Eagles committed an uncharacteristic 22 turnovers while the Bulldogs turned the ball over just 12 times. EWU hung with Butler on the boards with each team grabbing 13 rebounds in the first half.
Friday night, Iowa State used a 23-7 run early in the first half in their victory.
Nelson had a season-high 18 points behind 5-of-9 shooting. She buried a career-best four 3s on the night. Williams added 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, grabbing a team-high five rebounds.
The Eagles may be struggling but their first five opponents are a combined 25-8 to start the year. Iowa State is undefeated at 6-0 while Gonzaga is 5-1 and SMU 7-1. Portland is 4-2 through six games, including a win over PAC-12 Washington.
Iowa State, Gonzaga, SMU and Butler all earend postseason berths in 2013.
When Eastern takes to Reese Court Friday, Dec. 6 against Cal State Northridge they face a team that is struggling like they have.
Cal State Northridge (2-5) is currently riding a three-game losing streak, having fallen to BYU, Santa Clara and Utah State in its last three outings. CSUN has faced fellow Big Sky members Sacramento State and Montana State so far this season, losing both games.
Tipoff time is 6 p.m.