OGDEN, Utah – Junior Delaney Hodgins leads a trio of Big Sky All-Conference honors for the Eastern Washington women's basketball team, as the Eagles leading scorer was named to the All-Big Sky first team. Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips earned All-Big Sky second team honors, while fellow senior Ashli Payne garnered an All-Big Sky honorable mention selection.
This year's All-Big Sky first team selection is Hodgins' third career postseason conference accolade, while it was the first time that Phillips and Payne have earned a spot on an All-Big Sky postseason team in their respective careers. Eastern Washington's version of the 'Big 3' was the highest-scoring trio in the Big Sky this season at a combined 43.7 points per game, which helped EWU post to a 17-12 overall record and finish at 12-6 in conference play to earn the No. 4 seed of this week's Big Sky Tournament.
"It was great to see all three ladies honored on the Big Sky All-Conference teams," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "There are all extremely hard workers and I thought the awards were all well-deserved. I'm really proud of all three and I'm looking forward to them doing big things for us in the Big Sky Tournament."
Hodgins, who was a 2016-17 preseason All-Big Sky first team selection, lived up to her preseason expectations, as the Pasco, Washington native led the Big Sky in scoring for nearly the entire season, before ultimately finishing the regular season in second at 17.6 points per game. The forward came up big down the stretch for Eastern Washington, as she ended the regular season on a 14-game double-digit scoring streak to help the Eagles clinch a bye in this week's Big Sky Tournament.
"Delaney had a huge year for us", said Schuller of her team's leading scorer. "We expect big things from her in the Big Sky Tournament as well. She has really stepped up this season and established herself as one of the premier scorers in our conference."
The junior was a two-time Big Sky Player of the Week this season, as she was named the College Sports Madness Big Sky Player of the Week on Nov. 29, and then was named the Co-Big Sky Player of the Week by the league office the next week on Dec. 6. Hodgins recorded double-digit points in all but one game this season, and eclipsed the 20-point plateau in 10 times, which included a career-high 29-point performance at Utah Valley back on Nov. 22.
This year's All-Big Sky first team selection continues an impressive run of Big Sky accolades for Hodgins, as she earned Big Sky All-Tournament team honors and an All-Big Sky second team selection last season and was named the 2014-15 Big Sky Most Outstanding Freshman her first season in Cheney.
The All-Big Sky second team selection is the first time that redshirt senior Tisha Phillips has earned a Big Sky Conference accolade in her career, as the point guard went on the average a career-best 14.1 points per game and ranked seventh in the Big Sky in assists at 3.8 assists per game. Phillips's scoring average was a remarkable 8.7 points higher than her career scoring average coming into this season, as she developed into one of the most prolific scorers in the Big Sky.
"Tisha had a phenomenal senior year. She has done so many things for us this season. Either if we needed her to score, run the offense or go grab a rebound, she's been able to step up and do it."
The Lapwai, Idaho native also displayed her improved sharp shooting from behind the arc this season, as she finished the regular season with the second highest 3-point field goal percentage in the Big Sky at 43.3 percent (42-of-97). Phillips, who had just one career 20-point game in her career entering this season, eclipsed the 20-point mark six times this season, which included a 23-point performance against Northern Arizona this past Friday to help the Eagles clinch the No. 4 seed in this week's Big Sky Tournament. The senior also tallied a career-high 26 points on Jan. 26 against Montana.
Like Phillips, senior Ashli Payne earns her first career Big Sky All-Conference nod, as she was named to this year's honorable mention squad. The Bremerton, Washington native led Eastern in rebound at 6.6 boards per game, a mark that was also the 13th-best average in the Big Sky this season.
"Ashli has a great year as well," expressed Schuller. "She has been one of the best rebounders we've had in a while here and she provided us with a great scoring threat in the post as well."
Payne pulled down double-digit rebounds in a team-high six games this season, while she had a season-high 14 caroms against Idaho back in the Big Sky regular season opener against Idaho back on Dec. 31. She also scored 21 points in that game against the Vandals to earn Co-Big Sky Player of the Week honors on Jan. 2. Payne scored 20-or-more points in five games this season and collected three double-doubles.
Eastern Washington opens the 2017 Big Sky Tournament this Wednesday (March 8) at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada. The No. 4-seeded Eagles will play the winner of the No. 5 Idaho/No. Southern Utah game at 1:35 p.m. PT.
For more information on the Eastern Washington women's basketball team, follow @EWUWBB on Twitter and Instagram and be sure to like EWU Women's Basketball on Facebook.
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