Despite shooting 29.9 percent from the field, Eastern defeats Montana for the first time in seven attempts and moves into a first-place tie in the Big Sky
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team defeated the Montana Grizzlies 67-64 in overtime Friday at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., and are now in a first-place tie in the Big Sky Conference standings with Portland State.
The win ended a seven game losing streak to the Lady Griz - the last Eastern victory over Montana came on Jan. 28, 2006 at Reese Court in a 58-56 final.
"I am very proud of our team and our effort tonight," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "We kept getting down but we kept working and found a way to get it done. I am very proud of our entire team."
The Lady Griz turned the ball over 20 times in the contest, including two in possessions down the stretch in overtime. Sarah Ena, who led Montana in scoring with 19 points, turned the ball over with 15 seconds remaining with the Eagles leading 65-64.
After two missed free throws by Brianne Ryan, the Lady Griz had another opportunity to take the lead but Lauren Beck turned the ball over with 5 seconds remaining to put the game on ice for the Eagles.
"We knew coming in that Montana played a tough zone defense," said Schuller. "That gave us trouble especially early in the game and we were not attacking it the way we needed to be attacking. We made some adjustments and I thought our team did a nice job of making some key stops down the stretch."
Eastern entered halftime with a 26-24 lead, and came out on fire in the second half to go up by 10 at the 18:21 mark. The Lady Griz responded with a 10-0 run to tie the game up at 34-34.
Down seven with 3:13 remaining, the Eagles tore away at the deficit and tied it up at 53-53 with a minute remaining. Neither team was able to score in the final minute of regulation.
Kyla Evans led the Eagles in scoring for the contest with 17 points, 12 of which came on three-pointers. Evans also pulled down six rebounds and had three assists. Julie Piper finished with a double-double on 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Ryan finished in double figures with 10 points.
Montana shot 34.9 percent from the field compared to 29.9 percent by the Eagles, but Eastern capitalized from behind the arc by hitting 7-of-20 attempts. The Lady Griz finished 0-for-10 from beyond the arc.
The Eagles, now 8-6 overall and 2-0 in the Big Sky, will be back in action tomorrow (Jan. 9) at 7:05 p.m. in Reese Court against the Montana State Bobcats.