CHENEY, Wash. - The Eastern Washington women's basketball team overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit to pick up a 64-57 win over Montana on Thursday (Jan. 26) to give the Eagles just their second-ever season sweep of the Grizzlies.
Tonight's victory over Montana marks the first time since the 1979-80 season that Eastern has won both regular season meetings. With the unbalanced Big Sky Conference schedule, this season marked the first time since the 2014-15 campaign the two programs played twice in the regular season.
"We didn't play great offensively, but we were able to find away just like we did at Southern Utah," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "We were really good rebounding tonight. I thought that was able to keep us into the game and give us an opportunity in the end. Ashli and Delaney were really aggressive on the glass. They crashed the boards really hard throughout the game."
Eastern had to earn the sweep the hard way, as they trailed by 11 with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles pulled even at 49-all with 32 second remaining in the third, but it would be a brief tie, as freshman Uriah Howard sank just her fourth 3-point field goal of the season at the buzzer to Eastern Washington a 52-49 edge heading into the night's final frame.
The Eagles scored the first three points of the fourth, as redshirt senior Tisha Phillips put a cap on a 22-5 run that saw her team erase an 11-point deficit and take a nine-point lead.
Montana battled back and pulled to within two points of Eastern with 3:42 left to play. However, that would be the last basket the Grizzlies would score on Thursday, as EWU closed the game out on a 5-0 spurt to pick up a seven-point victory.
Phillips, who has been battling through an injury over the last week plus, came off the bench and put in one of her best efforts in an Eagle uniform. The point guard scored a career-best 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting and hit four of her five 3-point field goal attempts.
"Tisha had a special night," expressed Schuller of her point guard's play. "She has the heart of a warrior, and played extremely hard giving her physical state. It was great to see her be able to step up and make some plays for us tonight."
Junior Delaney Hodgins picked up third double-double of the season with an 18-point, 10 rebound outing. Hodgins was one of two EWU players to pull down double-digit caroms, as Payne collected a game-high 11 boards.