December 7, 2013

Eastern Finds Aggressive Streak, Routs Visiting Cal State Northridge

Cheney, Wash. – Senior center Laura Hughes led three Eagles in double-figures with a career-high 21 points as the Eastern Washington women's basketball team cruised past visiting Cal State Northridge, 73-53, Friday, Dec. 6, in a nonconference game at Reese Court.

"I thought it was a great team effort," head coach Wendy Schulle said. "Obviously, Laura comes in after missing some time and it was really nice to see her give us the boost that she did. I thought our whole team bought into what we were trying to defensively. We stuck to our scout, and I thought we were the aggressor tonight for the first time this season."

Hughes, back after missing last weekend's games, did all of her damage in just 15 minutes off the bench. She was a remarkable 8-of-9 from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. She also added five rebounds, three of which came on the offensive end, to go along with a pair of steals.

Sophomore guard Hayley Hodgins added 15 points, making a trio of three-pointers while snagging four offensive boards. Junior guard Lexie Nelson chipped in 13 points, making her impact felt with a career-high seven assists and six rebounds.

Junior forward Melissa Williams led EWU with eight rebounds, grabbing four offensive boards. Senior forward Aubrey Ashenfelter pulled down six caroms while freshman guard Jade Redmon tallied five rebounds off the bench.

Eastern (1-5) got off to a slow start as Cal State Northridge (2-7) started the game on an 8-2 run over the first five minutes. Four points from Hughes and a jumper from Nelson tied the score at 8-8 before the Eagles took their first lead, 10-8, on a layup from Hughes at the 11:57 mark. Mikayla Thielges converted for the Matadors on their next possession, but EWU turned up the intensity from there, reeling off a 14-4 run that spanned nearly five minutes to go up ten, 24-14, with 6:56 left in the half.

CSUN answered with a run of its own, pulling to within four, 26-22, on a jumper from Thielges with 4:16 on the clock. Hughes stopped the visitors' run with a jumper on Eastern's next possession, igniting a spurt that saw the Eagles score eight of the next 10 points to regain a double-digit advantage late in the half. Bernadette Fong brought the Matadors to within 10, 37-27, with a layup at the 1:02 mark but Williams finished a pass from freshman Marly Anderson with 51 seconds remaining to give EWU a 12-point lead heading into intermission.

Hodgins scored 13 of her 15 points in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 4-of-7 from the field. Hughes was equally unstoppable, tallying 12 of her 21 points in the first half, connecting on all five of her field goal attempts as the Eagles shot 47 percent from the field in the first stanza.

A layup from Ashenfelter and a jumper from Williams put Eastern up 16, 43-27, early in the second half, but CSUN cut the deficit to 11, 43-32, at the 17:27 mark. The Eagles continued to be aggressive, opening up a 24-point lead over the next seven minutes as Nelson either scored or assisted on nine of EWU's 18 points over that stretch.

Up 23 with 9:17 remaining, Eastern saw Cal State Northridge claw back to within 16, 66-50, over the next five minutes, using a full-court press to force the Eagles into uncharacteristic mistakes. Anderson converted a layup to stop the Matadors' run before Redmon sank a pair of free throws to restore a 20-point advantage for EWU, allowing Eastern to cruise to victory down the stretch.

Nelson proved a difficult matchup for CSUN in the second frame, tallying nine of her 13 points while assisting on two baskets. The Eagles did not settle for three-pointers in the second half, shooting just four but attempting 13 free throws.

EWU shot 46.7 percent for the game, limiting the Matadors to a 33.9-percent clip. Eastern converted 14 of its 19 free throw attempts while CSUN finished 7-of-13 from the charity stripe.

Eastern outrebounded Cal State Northridge, 43-33, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds to the visitors' 13. CSUN forced the Eagles into 23 turnovers, but the Matadors gave the ball back 19 times, scoring just four more points off turnovers than EWU.

Ashlee Guay led CSUN with 16 points while Jasmine Johnson added 10. Thielges finished with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.

The Eagles are at home for their next six games and will look to build on tonight's performance when they square off with Idaho next Saturday, Dec. 14. Tipoff time is set for 2 p.m. 

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