Cheney, Wash. - In a battle between two Eagle squads, the Eastern Washington women's basketball team jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the first three minutes over Northwest University and never looked back, defeating the visitors, 90-48, in a nonconference game at Reese Court.
Junior Lexie Nelson led all scorers with 21 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the field while knocking down a trio of three-pointers. Senior Laura Hughes went for 13 points and seven rebounds, blocking three shots in 17 minutes.
Freshman Tisha Phillips chipped in 10 points and a game-high-tying eight rebounds, both of which were career highs. Sophomore Hayley Hodgins matches Phillips on the glass, pulling down eight boards as the Eagles outrebounded Northwest, 53-31.
"I was proud of our first half in terms of jumping on them early and I thought we did a great job on the boards and just being the aggressor," head coach Wendy Schuller said after the game. "The second half was a different half and we tried some different things, but I think we shot the ball better in the second half and took better care of the ball."
Eastern (3-5) played with intensity the entire contest, not giving up an inch to their in-state foe through all 40 minutes en route to scoring the seventh-most points in a game in team history. The Eagles finished with 34 points in the paint and 24 points off 22 Northwest turnovers.
"We're glad to get out of here with a win, and I thank Northwest for playing hard and for giving us some things we need to work on going forward," said Schuller.
In the first half, Nelson contributed 15 of Eastern's 47 points as the Eags opened up a 31-point halftime lead. The Eags racked up an incredible 32 rebounds in the first 20 minutes and forced 13 turnovers, three of which were stolen by sophomore Hayley Hodgins. Hodgins ended the game with four steals, tying an Eags' season-high for 2013.
Eastern continued playing hard into the second half, upping their lead to 42 points after six minutes had ticked away. Laura Hughes broke into double figures for EWU early in the second frame before ending her night with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Hughes had the second-most free throws in the game, going 5-6 from the line, and matched the team's season-high for blocks (3) for the second-straight game.
Eastern as a team was solid from the charity stripe all night, going 15-16 in the first half and 4-5 in the second, good enough for 90.5 percent overall. Nelson buried six of seven shots from the free throw line while Hughes shot 5-of-6.
The Eagles spread the wealth in the contest, as points were scored by all but two players who saw time in the game. Eastern won the battle for bench points, as 38 came from the home team compared to just 25 from Northwest.
Junior Kylie Huerta dished out a team-high six assists while freshman Jade Redmon added five helpers. Senior Aubrey Ashenfelter, the reigning co-Big Sky Player of the Week, tallied eight points and six boards while junior Melissa Williams finished with six points and seven rebounds.
"We just have to get better, especially the young players, with communicating and still understanding some of the things we're trying to do," Schuller added. "Tisha Phillips was really great tonight at being aggressive and getting her hands on the ball and attacking. I thought Jade Redmon did a nice job too, so it was a good night."
Eastern connected on 44 percent of its shots, shooting at a 49-percent clip in the second half. The Eagles continued to be deadly from long range, making nine of 21 attempts from downtown. Northwest shot just 30 percent on the night, including a 19-percent clip from three-point range.
Alyssa Dario led the visitors with 10 points.
The Eagles are on a three-game winning streak heading into their last non-conference contest before Big Sky play begins, a home tilt on Friday against Boise State.