Cheney, Wash. – Junior Lexie Nelson made sure the Eastern Washington women's basketball ended its nonconference schedule on a positive note, pouring in a career-high 27 points as Eastern cruised past visiting Boise State, 81-66, Friday, Dec. 20, at Reese Court.
The Eagles have now won four consecutive games heading into Big Sky play, good for the fourth-longest winning streak in head coach Wendy Schuller's 13 seasons at the helm.
Nelson scored 12 points in the first half before tallying 15 in the second frame. She finished 11-of-17 from the field, burying a pair of three-pointers while shooting 3-of-5 from the free throw line.
"Offensively, Lexie was really efficient tonight," Schuller said. "I thought she came prepared and ready to play. I was very pleased with her effort."
Nelson's effective shooting carried over to the rest of the team as Eastern (4-5) shot a season-best 53.2 percent for the game, including a blistering 59.3 percent in the second stanza. EWU connected on 6-of-13 three-pointers, shooting at a 46.2-percent clip from long range.
Senior Laura Hughes chipped in 10 points as Boise State (4-6) held her to below 50 percent shooting for the first time this season. She grabbed a season-high eight rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end.
The Eagles raced out to a seven-point lead in the early going, punctuated by a lay-up from Hughes at the 18:40 mark. Boise State got on the board on its next possession as Miquelle Askew converted a lay-up inside. Hughes put EWU back up seven, 9-2, one minute later, but the Broncos responded with a 6-0 run to pull to within one, 13-12, with 14:32 on the clock.
Boise State took its first lead on a pair of free throws from Keiahna Engel at the 11:32 mark before expanding its lead to four, 21-17, on a jumper from Brooke Pahuko with 9:54 remaining. Nelson would score the next six points to tie the score at 23-23 before she converted a lay-up to give the Eagles a 29-27 advantage at the 6:20 mark. Up seven, 36-29, with 3:13 remaining, the Broncos crawled back to within two after scoring five straight points. Freshman Bethany Montgomery came up with a steal at midcourt with one minute left, finishing an easy lay-up to give the Eagles a four-point lead, 38-34, at the break.
The visitors cut EWU's lead to two out of halftime, but back-to-back buckets from Nelson gave Eastern a six-point margin, 42-36, with 18:19 on the clock. A triple from Lexie Der kept the Broncos within striking distance, 44-41, but Boise State would get no closer as the Eagles turned it on from there, turning a three-point lead into a 15-point advantage over the next 10 minutes. Eastern took its largest lead of the night, 78-61, on a lay-up from freshman Tisha Phillips with 3:48 remaining as it cruised to victory.
The Eagles made 16-of-27 shots in the second half, making a trio of three-pointers while shooting 8-of-11 from the free throw line.
"We talked offensively about some things we could do better in the second half," Schuller said. "More than anything, I thought we got the tempo going in the direction we wanted it to go. We got some early offense and were able to get the ball inside a little bit more."
Boise State shot 49.1 percent for the game but was held to just 27.8 percent from three-point range, making 5-of-18 shots from downtown. EWU won the battle on the boards, grabbing 38 rebounds to BSU's 27. The Eagles committed just 11 turnovers compared to the Broncos' 14, but Eastern registered 20 points off turnovers while Boise State managed just nine points.
Askew led the Broncos with 13 points while Der added 12.
The Eagles will take the next seven days off before opening Big Sky play at home against Dam Cup rival Portland State on Sunday, Dec. 29. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.