Eastern gets regular-season split with Hornets, after holding opponent to season-low 49 points
In an important Big Sky mid-season matchup, the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team took care of business at home, defeating Sacramento State, 63-49, on Thursday (Feb. 7) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles held Sac State to 49 points - a season-low for the Hornets. In fact, Sac State has only had three games this year with less than 60 points, and none under 50 before Thursday’s meeting with the Eags. Sac State came in averaging 73.1 per game.
“I thought we did a great job tonight,” said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. “Our players deserve a lot of credit for sticking to the game plan and following it against a lot of pressure. As fast as they [Sac State] play, and with the stuff they run offensively, you have to work. There is no standing around for even a second. It’s about work and I thought our players really put in the work preparing for this, and when the time came, they did a great job guarding.”
With the win, the Eagles avoided a regular-season sweep from Sac State, as EWU had dropped the game in Sacramento earlier this year.
Eastern improves to 13-9 overall and 9-4 in Big Sky play, maintaining its hold on third-place in the league standings.
“Sac State is a team that beat us earlier in the year at their place,” said Schuller. “In terms of the conference race, if you want to stay even or ahead of somebody, you have to at least get the split, so we felt this was a big one tonight. It was also at home, and we knew we had to take care of business here.”
The Hornets drop to 7-5 in conference - a full game and a half behind Eastern. Montana (10-3) is still atop the standings, but not by much, as Northern Colorado (9-3) moved within a 1/2 game of the lead when it beat the Lady Griz on Thursday in Greeley.
Eastern had three players reach double figures, led by a 12-point, 15-rebound effort from senior Carrie Ojeda. Just two rebounds shy of her career-high, the 6-1 center picked up her sixth double-double of the season.
Sophomore Lexie Nelson finished with a game-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor with three made 3-pointers, while sophomore point guard Kylie Huerta tallied 13 points, seven assists and four steals.
“Kylie was phenomenal for us tonight,” said Schuller. “Not just on the offensive end where she made a lot of things happen, but she was huge defensively on Fantasia [Hilliard]. She stuck to the scouting report, really understanding how we wanted to guard her.”
Midway through the first half, Eastern found itself in a 21-12 hole, but back-to-back-to-back buckets in the paint sparked an 18-5 run for EWU to close out the half.
The Hornets scored seven quick points to open the second period, which tied the game at 33. But a 23-9 scoring spree for the Eagles over the next 11 minutes gave the home team a comfortable lead.
With just under four minutes remaining, the Hornets hit back-to-back baskets, including one from beyond the arc, to cut the deficit to nine. But those were the final points of the game for Sac, as EWU went on to secure a 14-point victory.
Eastern held the Hornets to 32 percent shooting in the second half, while forcing eight turnovers.
Eastern will be back at Reese Court on Saturday (Feb. 9) to take on the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona - a team that also upended EWU earlier this year. It is Breast Cancer Awareness day, and all fans wearing pink will be granted $2 admission.