Montana State makes it an interesting second half, but the Eagles fight them off to stay perfect in the Big Sky Conference
The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team held off a Montana State second half run to defeat the Bobcats 69-63 Saturday (Jan. 9) in a Big Sky Conference contest at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
Julie Piper scored 13 points in the first half and finished the night with 17 total, along with a team-high eight rebounds. Chene Cooper scored 15 points and had a team-high three assists and four steals. Tatjana Sparavalo contributed 12 points from the bench.
"Piper plays her tail off and Cooper gave us a really strong spark off the bench," said head coach Wendy Schuller.
The Eagles, 9-6 overall and 3-0 in the Big Sky, will hit the road for games against Northern Arizona on Jan. 14 and Northern Colorado on Jan. 16.
Eastern remain in a first-place tie in the Big Sky Conference standings with Portland State, who also remained perfect in Big Sky play with a 49-47 victory over Montana.
The Eagles never trailed in the first half and went into halftime with a 38-29 advantage. The Bobcats responded to begin the second half by going on a 9-0 run to tie the contest up at 38-38 by the 16:33 mark.
The two teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the half, with the lead switching hands nine different times. Eastern broke a 63-63 tie with 1:37 remaining when Cooper hit a running floater from the middle of the key to put the Eagles up by two. Eastern padded their lead with four more points and held the Bobcats scoreless in the final 1:37.
"It was another battle and I am really proud of our team," said Schuller. "It was kind of a back and forth game and Montana State came out a little road weary. They turned it on a little in the late first half and then really got in their groove it on in the second half."
The Bobcats shot 45.3 percent from the field, compared to a 36.7 percentage from the Eagles. Eastern went to the free throw line 27 times, connecting on 23. Montana State was 8-of-11 from the charity stripe. The Eagles bench contributed 40 points in the contest.
"We think we have the best bench in the league we are deep and our bench gives us great contribution as they did again tonight," said Schuller.