Cheney, Wash. – In a game of runs, the Eastern Washington women's basketball team had the last laugh, using a 15-4 run late in the second half to defeat visiting Weber State, 78-67, in a Big Sky contest Thursday, Jan. 2, at Reese Court.
Sophomore Hayley Hodgins led all scorers with a season-high 22 points on 5-of-10 shooting, tying her career high with five made three-pointers. She also buried seven of her eight free throw attempts, matching her career bests in both categories.
Junior Lexie Nelson extended her streak of 20-point games to four after pouring in 21 points, shooting greater than 50 percent for the fifth consecutive game. She finished 7-of-13 from the field, connecting on three triples and all four of her free throw attempts.
A pair of free throws from senior Aubrey Ashenfelter tied the score for the seventh time in the second half, 59-59, before a trey from Hodgins put Eastern back on top, 62-60, with five minutes left to play. She hit another triple on EWU's next possession but the Wildcats refused to go quietly, converting out of a timeout to remain within striking distance.
Up three, 67-64, with 3:12 left, senior Laura Hughes scored seven straight for Eastern to give the Eagles a 10-point cushion, 74-64, at the 1:31 mark. A three-pointer from Desiree Ramos cut EWU's lead to seven but Nelson iced it down the stretch with a running jumper in the lane and a pair of free throws.
"I thought we came together defensively down the stretch," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "We started to click in our zone, and I thought our players were aggressive and moving. We were able to get stops, and that got our offense going."
Hughes went for 17 points, reaching double digits for the ninth time this season.
Ashenfelter led the Eagles with eight rebounds, adding six points, five assists and two blocks. Junior Melissa Williams pulled down seven boards off the bench while Hughes grabbed six caroms and Nelson and Hodgins each had five.
Eastern (5-6, 1-1 BSC) jumped out to a quick five-point lead, 7-2, after Hughes converted a pass from Ashenfelter in the paint with 18:37 on the clock. Nelson would put the Eagles up six, 12-6, two minutes later before Hughes gave EWU its largest lead of the first half, 16-9, on a lay-up at the 14:18 mark.
Weber State (4-6, 0-1 BSC) answered with a 20-2 run over the next eight minutes to take a 29-18 lead with 6:08 left in the opening half. The Wildcats would go up by as many as 12, 37-25, at the 1:46 mark, but EWU held the visitors scoreless for the remainder of the stanza, ending the half on a 8-0 run to pull to within four.
Nelson did most of her damage in the first half, scoring 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers.
The Eagles quickly regained the advantage out of the break, going on a 12-4 run over the opening three minutes to take a 45-41 lead. Weber State managed to tie the score at 48-48 with 13:31 on the clock before taking its first lead in more than seven minutes on a triple from Amanda Hughes at the 9:53 mark.
Hodgins and Hughes proved unstoppable in the second stanza, going for 17 points and 13 points, respectively. Eastern shot 46.7 percent in over the final 20 minutes after shooting 37.9 percent in the first half.
Junior Kylie Huerta tied her season high with seven assists, finishing without a turnover the second time in three games.
Freshman Bethany Montgomery provided a spark off the bench, chipping in eight points on 4-of-6 shooting in just 14 minutes.
Eastern shot 42.4 percent for the game, below Weber State's 44.6-percent clip. EWU shot 20-of-22 from the charity stripe compared to the Wildcats' 10-of-17 showing.
The Eagles scored 28 points in the paint to WSU's 18, but the visitors got 31 points from their bench compared to Eastern's 12.
Ramos scored 20 points for Weber State while Hughes went for 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
Eastern returns to the court on Saturday, Jan. 4, hosting Idaho State in a Big Sky counter. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.