EWU women hope Reese is more kind than the road
Eastern Washington women’s basketball head coach Wendy Schuller wasn’t too excited about her team having to travel through Western Montana, and that was just the bus ride.
Following an 0-2 results after losing a late lead - and the game - 78-74 at Montana State last Saturday, an outcome that came on the heels of an 81-64 loss at Montana last Thursday, the Eagles are glad to be home at Reese Court again.
The two-game home stand begins tonight (Jan. 16) against Northern Arizona (0-3 Big Sky, 4-9 overall) at 6 p.m. and follows with Sacramento State (3-1, 11-2) Saturday at 2 p.m.
Eastern (2-3 BSC, 6-8) was up by 10 points with eight minutes left, but saw host Montana State finish on a 25-11 run to steal a come-from-behind win at Worthington Arena.
Senior Aubrey Ashenfelter gave Eastern a 10-point advantage on a pair of free throws with a little over eight minutes left, but Montana State (8-5, 3-1 BSC) used a 7-0 run over the next 2 minutes, 30 seconds to crawl to within three, 63-60.
The Bobcats would eventually tie the game at 65-all with 3:29 left before taking its first lead in nearly 12 minutes on a 3-pointer at the 2:58 mark. Ashenfelter had a chance to tie it with 12 seconds left, but her jumper rimmed out before Montana State twice evaded Eastern’s foul attempts to score lay-ups on the other end.
“Bottom line, they made shots and we didn’t,” Schuller said. “They stepped up and hit some big shots and we had some missed opportunities.”
Junior Lexie Nelson led Eastern with 19 points, shooting 9-of-10 from the free throw line, including 7-of-8 in the first half. She saw her streak of 21 consecutive made free throws come to an end midway through the first half. Haley Hodgins finished with 18 points, knocking down four 3-pointers while pulling down a team-high eight rebounds. Ashenfelter added 13.
MSU’s Ashley Brumwell led all scorers with 26 points.
Eastern shot just 35 percent for the game while MSU connected at a 45-percent clip, including 54 percent from long range (7-13). Eastern knocked down eight 3-pointers, shooting 40 percent from deep. The Eagles finished 18-of-22 from the free throw line while the Bobcats were a perfect 13-of-13.
The start of the road trip in Missoula at Dalhberg Arena saw the Eagles open the game 1-of-10 from the field over the opening nine minutes as Montana (3-1, 9-4) raced out to a 17-8 lead.
The Eagles pulled to within four late in the first half, and trailed 39-30 at the break, but would get no closer. “Montana did a great job of playing to its strengths,” Schuller said. “We didn’t help ourselves by digging an early hole.”
Nelson and freshman Jade Redmon each tallied 11 points for Eastern. Redmon’s 11 points were a season high. Hodgins chipped in 10.
NAU, which played Monday, was 0-3 in conference games, 4-9 overall. Sacramento State (11-2, 3-1 BSC) has been the talk of the Big Sky so far this season as first-year head coach Bunky Harkleroad has installed an up-tempo style that includes a full-court press and frequent lineup changes. The Hornets average a league-best 93.1 points per game.