CHENEY, Wash. --Junior Delaney Hodgins poured in 22 points on Saturday (Feb. 11) and sparked a late run in the fourth quarter to help the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team upset Big Sky Conference leader, Northern Colorado, 67-61, at Reese Court.
The Eagles led for 34:13 on Saturday and led by as many as 12 points in the game, but Northern Colorado continuously chipped away before going on a 12-4 run to tie the game up at 52-52 with 6:37 left to play. Sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow began a game-deciding 13-4 run with a layup at the 6:13 mark, then Hodgins, the Big Sky's leading scorer, took over.
The junior hit back-to-back three-pointers to force Northern Colorado to take a timeout trailing, 60-54. Freshman Symone Starks collected a steal on the Bears ensuing possession, which led to a layup for Hodgins to give EWU an eight-point lead. UNC hit a basket to bring Hodgins' personal 5-0 spurt to a halt, but the forward responded with her third 3-point field goal in a little over two-and-a-half minutes to put Eastern up nine at 65-56. All nine points scored by the junior came during the game-winning run.
"Delaney understands when she needs to step up," said head coach Wendy Schuller of Hodgins' fourth-quarter performance. "She got some really good open looks from three and knocked them down at a crucial time for us."
The Bears pulled within five points with 17 seconds remaining, but the Eagles were able to maintain a lead and upset the first-place team in the Big Sky, 67-61.
Hodgins' 22-point effort was one of four double-digit scoring performances for Eastern Washington on Saturday. Senior Ashli Payne recorded 16 points, while redshirt senior Tisha Phillips contributed 15 points and Morrow posted 10.
"We imposed our will and guarded the way we know we can today," said Schuller of the win. "I don't think we were very good defensive our last time out, and we talked about a few things over the last 48 hours. The ladies did an amazing job today on the defensive end and played with a lot of effort."
Eastern held Northern Colorado to a 45.3 shooting percentage. The Eagles forced 14 UNC turnovers and collected nine steals, with Payne, Starks and sophomore Alissa Sealby each picking up two apiece. The Eagles shot an even 50 percent (28-of-56) from the floor on Saturday.
"We proved to ourselves today what we are capable of," added Schuller. "When we get to Reno we know we can play with anyone when we play defense like we did today. But we still need to get better. Offensively, we're still figuring ourselves out. We have a little bit of time to prepare ourselves for next week, so we may add some adjustments to prepare us for this stretch run."
Win-Loss Records: The Eagles improve to 9-4 in the Big Sky and 14-10 overall on the year. For Northern Colorado, they drop a Big Sky contest for the second time in three games after opening the year a perfect 10-0, but maintain a first-place tie with Montana State and North Dakota at 11-2. The Bears are now 19-5 overall this season.
What It Means: With today's win Eastern maintains fourth-place in the Big Sky standings at 9-4. The Eagles now sit two games back of a three-team logjam atop the Big Sky standings, as Montana State, Northern Colorado and North Dakota are all 11-2 after this weekend's set of games.
The win also keeps both Idaho teams at bay, as Eastern maintains a half-game lead over Idaho State for fourth place and a one-game lead over Idaho for sixth. Saturday's outcomes intensify an already important contest next Friday between the Eagles and the Vandals in Moscow.
Key Stats: The Eagles only held a 10-9 edge in offensive rebounds on Saturday, but they made the most of their opportunities and outscored the Bears 16-6 in second-chance points.
Eastern Washington was able to have its way down low against Northern Colorado, as they posted a 40-26 edge in points in the paint. That effort helped the Eagles shoot an even 50 percent against the Bears on Saturday.
Turning Point: It looked as if Northern Colorado was poised to take its first lead of the game since the second quarter after closing out a 12-4 run that knotted the game up at 52-52 with 6:37 left to play. The Eagles responded with a 13-4 to take a commanding 65-56 lead with 2:14 left to play.
Junior Delaney Hodgins scored all by two points during the run, as she sank three 3-point field goals in 2:37 of game time to lead her team to the upset victory.
Top Performers: Junior Delaney Hodgins collected a game-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The forward went 4-of-5 from behind the arc, three of which she hit in the fourth quarter alone.
Senior Ashli Payne recorded her fifth-straight double-digit scoring game with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The Bremerton, Washington native also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Redshirt senior Tisha Phillips handed out a team-high four assists to go along with 14 points.
Sophomore Violet Kapri Morrow returned to the double-digit scoring column for the first time in nearly a month with a 10-point outing on Saturday. The last time Morrow recorded 10-plus points in a game was back on Jan. 14, when she had 13 points against Weber State.
Notables: With the win, Eastern Washington pulls to within three games of Northern Colorado in the all-time series at 12-9.
The Eagles are now 20-4 at Reese Court against the Big Sky since the start of the 2014-15 season. The win also snaps a rare two-game home losing streak for the Eagles.
The 22-point effort from Delaney Hodgins today marks her 15th career game with 20-plus points. It is the ninth time this season that Hodgins has scored 20-or-more points in a game, while it is her 74th career double-digit scoring game.
Eastern Washington went 6-of-13 from behind the arc tonight to improve it streak with at least one 3-point field goal make to 324 games.
What's Next: It will be a full week before the Eastern Washington women's basketball team's next game. The Eagles open a season-long three-game Big Sky road trip next Saturday at Idaho. Tip-off from Moscow, Idaho is set for 6 p.m. PT. The game can be streamed live on WatchBigSky.com and the Watch Big Sky App.
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.