February 24, 2007

Eagles Stay Alive by Narrowest of Margins

Feb. 24, 2007

Final Stats

The Eastern Washington University women's basketball team is still holding onto a thread of hope for getting into the Big Sky Conference Tournament. This remained the case following Saturday's set of Big Sky Conference games, as the Eagles earned a 66-63 road win over Sacramento State while, one hour earlier, Idaho State's Andrea Lightfoot nailed a game-winning buzzer-beating three-pointer in ISU's 91-90 win over Portland State.

The two results moved the Eagles (9-18, 4-10 BSC) one game closer to sixth-place Portland State (10-17, 6-8 BSC) for the final slot into postseason play. Eastern Washington is two games back with two to play. If the teams were to finish tied, the sixth seed would be determined by a tiebreaker, the results of which are still to be determined. Simply put, Northern Arizona (17-10, 10-4 BSC) would have to finish ahead of Idaho State (13-13, 9-5 BSC) in the final standings, as the Eagles would have split with the Lumberjacks and lost both games with Idaho State, while the Vikings would have gone 0-2 with NAU and 1-1 with Idaho State.

In today's game in California's capital city, the Eagles were led in scoring by Joanna Chadd (13 points), Phynique Allen (12) and Sydney Benson (10). Benson also set the rebounding pace for the Eagles with nine boards. Allen tied her own 2006-07 team high with eight assists (she also accumulated that many in an 84-66 win over Portland on Dec. 31) and contributed four steals to the winning effort. Nicole Scott had three blocks to lead that category, while Tara Holgate swiped two away, as well.

Sacramento State (3-25, 1-13 BSC) quickly jumped out to a 10-2 lead and would extend its advantage to as many as nine on three separate occasions. Eastern Washington was unable to garner a lead of its own in the opening stanza, but did tie the game late in the half, 27-27, before entering the locker room down two, 29-27.

After three more ties early in the second half, EWU earned its first lead on a Chadd three-point shot, 41-40, with 14:47 remaining in the contest. For the next nine minutes, the game see-sawed back-and-forth, as neither team was able to pull away by more than two points. That ended when a Holgate lay-up pushed Eastern's edge to 54-51 with 5:47 left. That would be the largest lead of the contest until a pair of Brittney Osborn free throws with six seconds left put the game away, 66-61. A Sacramento State lay-up with two seconds on the clock provided the scoreboard its final tallies of the day.

In total, there were 11 ties in the scintillating contest.

Both Eastern Washington and Portland State play host to Northern Colorado (5-22, 2-12 BSC) and Northern Arizona (17-10, 10-4 BSC) this week to conclude regular-season play. The Eagles takes on the Bears at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday (March 1), while PSU plays host to Northern Arizona at the same time. The regular season concludes next Saturday with the teams switching opponents. Senior Day for the Eagles will commence at 2:05 p.m. versus NAU. Eagle seniors Chadd and Leah Gonnella will be playing their final game at Reese Court that day.

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