The road has not at all been kind to the Eastern Washington women’s basketball team so far this season.
And the challenge will likely not be any less as the Eagles reach the halfway point of its schedule with a rugged trip to the eastern reaches of the Big Sky with games tonight (Jan. 30) at North Dakota and Saturday at Northern Colorado.
Not only will the temperature be hovering around zero in Grand Forks, but league-leading UND is 7-2 in Big Sky play, 12-6 overall and 7-1 at the Betty Engelstad Center. Northern Colorado is 4-5 in conference play and 10-8 overall.
Eastern is winless on the road this year at 0-5, 4-4 in Sky play and 8-9 overall following a disappointing outing last Saturday to another faraway locale, Cedar City, Utah where Hayley Hodgins’ last-second jump shot rimmed out as time expired allowing Southern Utah to hold on for a 62-61 win.
Eastern trailed 62-59 with 1 minute, 46 seconds to play on a basket from Lexie Nelson and following a Thunderbird miss Laura Hughes first grabbed the rebound and converted the play for a lay in with 50 seconds remaining to draw Eastern to within 62-61.
Following Nelson’s lay in attempt being swatted out of bounds, Eastern got the ball back for an inbounds play and in just three seconds Hodgins got the ball, passed to Hughes and then got the ball back for a contested shot.
“This is a very tough loss to swallow,” EWU head coach Wendy Schuller said. “I liked that we fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win down the stretch.”
Hughes led all scorers with 16 points. Nelson added 13, Hodgins 12 and freshman Bethany Montgomery had a season-high 11 points off the bench.
North Dakota won its first six league games. Their two losses have come to Montana State at home and Sacramento State on the road. Northern Colorado sits half a game back of Eastern in the league standings, having won four of its last six games.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.