February 18, 2014

@EWUWBB Hosts Southern Utah Before Tripping To Dam Cup Rival Portland State

This Week In EWU Basketball

Southern Utah at Portland State
Thursday, Feb. 20 | 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 | 7 p.m.
Reese Court | Cheney, Wash. Stott Center | Portland, Ore.
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With three weeks of conference play remaining, the Eastern Washington women's basketball team will look to solidify its spot in the Big Sky Tournament with a pair of league counters this week. Southern Utah visits Reese Court on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m. before EWU makes the drive to the Rose City for a tilt at Dam Cup rival Portland State on Monday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m.

Eastern (12-11, 8-6 Big Sky) is currently in a two-way tie for fourth place in the Big Sky standings with Sacramento State, but owns the tiebreaker over the Hornets after sweeping the season series last weekend.

The Eagles opened last week with a 79-73 win at Sacramento State on Thursday, Feb. 13, opening up a 22-point lead in the first half only to see the Hornets rally to tie the game late in the second stanza. EWU made some timely defensive plays down the stretch while knocking down its free throws on the other end to hang on for the win.

Junior Lexie Nelson led all scorers with 23 points on Thursday, knocking down four three-pointers. Redshirt sophomore Hayley Hodgins added 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and a career-best four blocks. Senior Aubrey Ashenfelter finished with her third double-double of the year, notching 14 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Bethany Montgomery came off the bench to score 13 points and pull down seven rebounds, both season highs.

Eastern connected on 52.0 percent of its shots against Sacramento State, its highest road shooting percentage of the season.

On Saturday, Feb. 15, Eastern opened up a nine-point advantage over host Northern Arizona, but the Lumberjacks took the lead late in the first half and never looked back, besting the Eagles, 86-78. The two teams combined for 52 personal fouls and 74 free throw attempts as seven players fouled out of the game. EWU saw four of its players get whistled for five fouls, including senior Laura Hughes and junior Melissa Williams, who played just 17 minutes and 18 minutes, respectively.

Hodgins paced Eastern with 22 points, recording new career highs in free throws made (10) and attempted (11). Freshman Jade Redmon continued her impressive run of play with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds against NAU, reaching double-figures for the third time in EWU's last four games.

Southern Utah (16-7, 10-4 BSC) is tied with Montana for second in the Big Sky standings after winning seven of its last eight league games. The Thunderbirds are 5-3 in road conference games and have won three of their last four games away from home. Hailey Mandelko (12.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Lori Parkinson (12.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg) are SUU's leading scorers.

The Thunderbirds won this year's first meeting, 62-61, in Cedar City after Hodgins' short jumper rimmed out as the buzzer sounded. It was Eastern's first loss of the season when holding its opponent to less than 40 percent shooting. Hughes led EWU with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting while Nelson added 13 points.

Portland State (6-17, 4-10) is facing an uphill battle for a spot in the Big Sky Tournament after having lost seven of its last eight games. Five of the Vikings' six wins have come at home, including three of its four league wins. Emily Easom (12.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg) paces four PSU players in double figures.

The Vikings handed Eastern its second home lost of the year in this season's first meeting, upending the Eagles, 86-74, in Cheney back on Dec. 29. The game had 10 ties and six lead changes but EWU shot just 30 percent from three-point range as PSU pulled away down the stretch. Nelson poured in a career-high 29 points while Hughes added 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting.

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