RENO, Nev. - A long road trip, a late game and a hot-shooting opponent conspired against the Eastern Washington University women's basketball team as it fell 82-73 to Portland State Wednesday (March 7) in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament at the Reno Events Center.
The No. 6 Vikings, who made eight-straight shots in the third quarter during a game-deciding 23-10 run, advance to play Idaho in the semifinals. The third-seeded Eagles are now 17-14 on the season after closing the conference season with a 12-6 record and four-game winning streak.
"Obviously, it's disappointing for us. I think at the end of the day, we didn't defend the way we've defended in the games where we have had great success. We were reactive instead of trying to dictate what the other team did. We had some early fouls that made us have to adjust how we were guarding," said head coach Wendy Schuller. "A lot of times, our offense gets going by what we do on the defensive end. When we were getting stops, we were in good shape. We got out into passing lanes and made good things happen, but tonight wasn't who we are. Portland State deserves credit because they played a great game, they attacked and took us out of things and that was a big difference."
Eastern senior Delaney Hodgins broke her sister's record for single season points, but she was held to 15 against the Vikings on 6-of-17 shooting. She has now scored 692 points this season, eclipsing the 680 points of Hayley Hodgins two seasons ago. In the process, Delaney moved into third in Big Sky history, moving up three spots. She now has 2,120 points to remain ranked third in league history.
In her last outing, Hodgins went a perfect 7-for-7 from behind the three-point line against Northern Arizona to set a new Big Sky single-game record with 46 points. She made her last two against Southern Utah one game earlier and her first two against PSU, thus, had a streak of 11-straight makes from the 3-point arc ended late in the first quarter versus the Vikings.
The Eagles have been on the road for more than a week, choosing to stay on the road after sweeping Southern Utah and Northern Arizona last Wednesday and Friday. Then, they had to wait all day until Wednesday at 8 p.m. to finally play their tourney opener.
Eastern led by as many as eight in the first quarter, but eventually trailed at halftime 37-35. The Vikings led by just one when it went on their 23-10 run to take a 64-50 lead with 2:09 to play. Portland State led by no less than nine and by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Uriah Howard led Eastern with a career-high 22 points. Violet Kapri Morrow, a third-team all-league pick, added 14 points, and freshman Brittany Klaman chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.
WHAT'S NEXT IN RENO: The Vikings advance to play second-seeded Idaho in the semifinals of the tournament on Friday (March 9) at 2:30 p.m. Second-seeded Idaho beat No. 7 Montana State 78-74 in the other quarterfinal in EWU's side of the bracket to advance to the semis. In the other quarterfinal games, No. 1 Northern Colorado defeated No. 8 Montana 78-69, and No. 4 Weber State fell 113-109 to No. 5 Idaho State in overtime, meaning the Bears and Bengals will play in the first semifinal Friday at noon.
The semifinals and championship game may be watched for free on Pluto TV Channel 231 or on WatchBigSky.com, and will also be available on those platforms in addition to Eleven Sports. Live stats for all games can be found on bigskystats.com.
WIN-LOSS RECORDS: Eastern is now 17-14 overall after having its winning streak stopped at four. After being predicted to finish sixth and seventh in the Big Sky Preseason Polls, the Eagles secured the No. 3 seed after compiling a 12-6 conference mark. It was the seventh year in a row EWU has had at least 12 wins in conference play, and the eighth straight with at least 10 – no other Big Sky school has achieved that feat. It was also the seventh season in a row that Eastern Washington has secured a top-four seed and a first-round bye. Head coach Wendy Schuller now has 254 wins overall and 150 conference victories, and this is her 10th winning season in 17 seasons. She is the longest tenured Big Sky coach, and has won a program-best eight BSC Tournament games. Under Schuller, the Eagles are 8-14 in the tournament with seven semifinal appearances.
Portland State, coached by former Eagle assistant coach Lynn Kennedy, defeated Northern Arizona 77-61 in the tournament's first round on March 5 and is now 19-12 on the season after the win over EWU. Third-team All-Big Sky selection Sidney Rielly scored 20 points versus EWU after scoring 24 in the NAU victory. Second-team all-league selection Ashley Bolston also had 20 points versus EWU after chipping nine points, five rebounds and four steals in PSU's opener. The Vikings were 11-7 during conference play.
TOP PERFORMERS: Sophomore Uriah Howard led Eastern with a career-high 22 points, finishing 8-of-14 from the field. Her previous career high was 18 versus Multnomah on Dec. 8. First-team All-Big Sky Conference selection Delaney Hodgins scored 15 points, making 6-of-17 shots from the field overall and 3-of-8 from the 3-point stripe. Violet Kapri Morrow, a third-team all-league pick, added 14 points, and freshman Brittany Klaman chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.
KEY STATISTICS: The Eagles had 20 turnovers – including four in the 23-10 run -- leading to a 21-11 advantage for PSU in points off turnovers. The Vikings were just 1-of-13 from 3-point range, but made 29-of-50 2-point shots for 58 percent. Overall, the Vikings out-shot EWU 47.6 percent to 43.1 percent, with the Eagles sinking 12-of-28 3-pointers.
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