Schuller coaches 500th game as Eagles soar at home

At 5-2, women’s basketball is in four-way tie for first place in conference

Head+coach+Wendy+Schuller+poses+during+her+career+acknowledgement+at+the+Eagle%27s+win+over+Southern+Utah+on+Jan.+20.+This+was+Schuller%27s+500th+game+at+EWU+%7C+Photo+courtesy+of+Aaron+Malmoe

Head coach Wendy Schuller poses during her career acknowledgement at the Eagle’s win over Southern Utah on Jan. 20. This was Schuller’s 500th game at EWU | Photo courtesy of Aaron Malmoe

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

When you have two players combine for 57 points, you’re likely going to win. On Jan. 18 against Northern Arizona, senior forward Delaney Hodgins scored a career high 30 points and junior guard Kapri Morrow had a career best 27 points, as the EWU women’s basketball team defeated NAU 82-62. The Eagles followed that up with a 58-41 victory against Southern Utah on Jan. 20.

The two victories improved the Eagles to 5-2 in Big Sky play, and to 10-9 overall. It’s the first time all season that the Eagles have been above .500, and they are now in a four-way tie for first place in conference standings with Northern Colorado, Weber State and Montana.

Both of the weekend’s games combined for only two lead changes (both against NAU) and two ties (also against NAU). By contrast, back on Dec. 11, the Eagles participated in a single game that had 24 lead changes.

The Eagles did not trail at the end of any quarter in either game, and spent the majority of each leading by double digits.

Against NAU, Morrow dominated the first half offensively—scoring 16 points and pacing the Eagles to a 38-22 lead. While Morrow was scoring, Hodgins ended the half with five rebounds and three steals.

Hodgins came alive in the second half, scoring 18 of her 30 points. She finished the win with five three-pointers and eight rebounds. Morrow added 11 more second half points, bringing her total to 27. Sophomore guard Symone Starks scored nine points (all on three’s), while adding seven assists.

Hodgins is expected to put up big numbers. After all, she was voted the Big Sky Conference Preseason MVP. The strong play of Morrow, however, has been a very encouraging sign for the Eagles. Since conference play began, Morrow is averaging 16.6 points per game.

Senior forward Delaney Hodgins drives to the hoop against Southern Utah. Hodins is 55 points away from becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer | Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

“Kapri is having a phenomenal year,” said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller.  “She has stepped up in so many ways that aren’t all reflected on the stat sheet. She has established herself as a scorer for us and has become a very nice three-point shooter. But she can post and rebound and get to the rim. She is turning into a special player.”

Sunday’s game was more of the same. In Schuller’s 500th contest as head coach, the Eagles never trailed, and the game was never tied after 0-0. EWU led 19-3 at the end of the first quarter, and never looked back.

SUU used a 15-4 run to come within nine in the third quarter, but Hodgins and freshman guard Brittany Klaman answered with a 7-0 run to prevent SUU from pulling any closer.

Hodgins finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. Morrow had 16 points.

Late in the fourth, the game took an ugly turn. SUU sophomore guard Rebecca Cardenas took a hard fall. She was checked out by trainers before returning to the game. Later, after SUU threw the ball inbounds, Starks quickly shoved Cardenas to the ground.

Starks was immediately ejected from the game. SUU players reacted and further fighting briefly started, but officials were able to break it up quickly. Other than Starks’ ejection, no other infractions were called.

By this time, the game had long since been determined. The Eagles coasted the rest of the way to close out Schuller’s milestone game with a victory.

“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of an organization that’s willing to keep me around for so long,” said Schuller. “I think back to all the kids who have been part of those 500 games. I feel very lucky that I still have great relationships with so many of them.”

The pair of victories wrapped up a three-game home stand for EWU. They now hit the road for pair of road contests. On Jan. 25, the Eagles play North Dakota before taking on Northern Colorado on Jan. 27. Their next home game is Feb. 1 against Sacramento State.