The Eastern Washington women's basketball team earned a spot in the Big Sky Tournament and swept the season series from Northern Colorado, 67-61, in a league contest Thursday, Feb. 27, at Reese Court.
Eastern (15-11, 11-6 Big Sky) improves to 7-1 in its last eight outings with the win while Northern Colorado (14-13, 8-10 BSC) sees its Big Sky Tournament hopes take a hit, falling one game back of seventh place.
"I think we have finally all figured each other out," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "We've gotten progressively better defensively as the year as gone on. I think we've learned to play to each other's strengths, and we've shot the ball pretty well."
Senior Aubrey Ashenfelter led EWU with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, going a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. She added four rebounds, four assists and two blocks to her impressive stat line.
Junior Lexie Nelson added 12 points, knocking down two three-pointers and making all four of her free throws. Freshmen Jade Redmon and Bethany Montgomery chipped in 10 points apiece while Redmon added a game-high five assists and three steals.
The Eagles led for a majority of the night, erasing an early five-point deficit to take the lead for good on a lay-up from senior Laura Hughes at the 9:30 mark of the first half. EWU led by as many as 13 in the opening stanza, holding the Bears to 30.8 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes.
Redmon converted inside on Eastern's first possession of the second half to give EWU its largest lead of the game, 35-20, but the visitors slowly crept back in it, cutting the Eagles' lead to seven with 14 minutes remaining. A pair of free throws from redshirt sophomore Hayley Hodgins put Eastern back up nine, 43-34, but UNC answered with another run, pulling to within three, 50-47, at the 3:42 mark.
Northern Colorado would get no closer, however, as the Eagles shot 13-of-14 from the free throw line over the final 3:30 while holding the Bears to just four field goals down the stretch.
Eastern shot 43.8 percent for the game after connecting on 52 percent of its shots in the first half. UNC shot at a 36.8-percent clip on the night, shooting 41.9 percent in the second stanza.
The Eagles tied its season low with three three-pointers, all of which came in the first half. EWU did most of its damage from the free throw line, going 22-of-24 while Northern Colorado made just 12 of 17 free throws.
UNC outrebounded Eastern, 35-31, while the Bears pulled down 18 offensive rebounds, outscoring EWU 20-8 in second chance points.
Eastern committed just nine turnovers while Northern Colorado had 11 miscues.
Kim Lockridge led the way for Northern Colorado with 16 points and nine rebounds while Lindsay Mallon added 11 points.
Eastern closes out its 2013-14 home slate against league-leading North Dakota this Saturday, Mar. 1. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m., and the Eagles will say goodbye to their two seniors before the game.