Eagles Drop Big Sky Opener To Visiting Vikings
Cheney, Wash. – A career-high 29 points from junior Lexie Nelson was not enough as the Eastern Washington women's basketball team fell to visiting Portland State, 86-74, Sunday, Dec. 29, in a Big Sky counter at Reese Court.
Eastern (4-6, 0-1 BSC) was within striking distance late, down six with a little more than four minutes to play. The Vikings (3-7, 1-0 BSC) reeled off a 9-1 run over the next two minutes to take a 14-point lead, 76-62, forcing the Eagles to foul in order to conserve time. EWU would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way, however, as PSU drained 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch.
The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Eagles and prevents Eastern from finishing unbeaten in December for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.
Nelson finished 9-of-15 from the floor, knocking down a career-best five three-pointers. She also drained all six of her free throw attempts as she scored at least 20 points for the third consecutive game.
Senior center Laura Hughes added 16 points and five rebounds while classmate Audrey Ashenfelter chipped in nine points and three blocks.
Sophomore guard Hayley Hodgins pulled down a career-high nine rebounds.
"I thought Portland State played really hard," head coach Wendy Schuller said. "They got physical with us early on in the game, and I don't think we responded very well to that. Offensively, they did a good job executing but I think we have the ability to play much better on that end of the floor."
The Vikings led from the get-go, opening up a seven-point advantage, 12-5, a little more than six minutes into the game. Nelson ripped off 11 straight points to give EWU its first lead, 14-12, at the 10:52 mark, but a jumper from Allie Brock restored PSU's lead before a 10-2 run gave the visitors a 31-24 lead with 4:09 left in the half.
Nelson once again took over, knocking down two three-pointers and a jumper, the last of which came at the first-half buzzer as the Eagles pulled to within one, 34-33, at the break.
Nelson scored 20 points in the first half, missing just two of her eight field goal attempts. The rest of the Eagles struggled from the field in the opening stanza, shooting 36.7 percent as a team through the opening 20 minutes.
The two squads went blow for blow at the start of the second half as the opening seven minutes featured six ties and eight lead changes. A jumper from freshman Jade Redmon tied the score at 49-49 with 12:38 on the clock, but the Vikings answered with a 12-2 run over the next four minutes, forcing Schuller to call timeout.
Buckets from Ashenfelter and Hodgins brought EWU to within six, 61-55, at the 7:24 mark, but Brock answered for Portland State, restoring an eight-point lead at just under six minutes on the clock. A jumper from Nelson cut the Eagles' deficit to six with 5:35 remaining, but Eastern would get no closer as the Vikings had an answer for every EWU bucket.
Eastern shot 41.5 percent from the field while PSU connected at a 50-percent clip. EWU was just 6-of-20 from three-point range, its lowest percentage in four games.
Portland State held a 44-33 edge on the glass, scoring 17 second-chance points to Eastern's 14. The Vikings did most of their damage in the paint, finishing with 48 points while limiting EWU to just 30 points in the paint. PSU also tallied 14 fastbreak points, limiting the Eagles to just two.
Kate Lanz recorded a triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while Brock finished with 20 points and eight boards.
Eastern is back in action next week with a pair of Big Sky games at Reese Court. The Eagles open play against Weber State on Thursday, Jan. 2, at 6 p.m.