EWU women’s basketball picks up road split in Montana

Redshirt+freshman+guard+Amy+Hartleroad+in+defensive+position+during+the+team%27s+win+Sacramento+State+on+Feb.+3.+The+Eagles+are+8%E2%80%936+in+Big+Sky+Conference+play+and+tied+for+fifth+place+%7C+Mckenzie+Ford+for+The+Easterner

Redshirt freshman guard Amy Hartleroad in defensive position during the team’s win Sacramento State on Feb. 3. The Eagles are 8–6 in Big Sky Conference play and tied for fifth place | Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

The EWU women’s basketball team split a pair of conference games on the road, beating Montana 75–72 on Feb. 15, and losing to Montana State 77–74 on Feb. 17. The Eagles are now 8–6 in Big Sky Conference play, and 13–13 overall, with four games remaining in the regular season.

After the win against Montana, the Eagles briefly moved into a four-way tie for third place in the BSC. However, the loss to Montana State dropped them into a tie for fifth place with Portland State. The Eagles are trying to wrap up one of the top four seeds—and a first round bye—in next month’s BSC championship tournament

Senior forward Delaney Hodgins had another big week for the Eagles, notching 24 points and five steals in the win against Montana. She followed that up with a career-high 31 points against Montana State.

EWU led most of the game against the Grizzlies. UM senior forward Mekayla Isaak opened the game with a short jumper to give her team a 2-0 lead. That would be the only advantage the Grizzlies would manage. Junior guard Kapri Marrow quickly tied the game with a jumper, and sophomore guard Symone Starks buried a three to give the Eagles a 5–2 lead. The Eagles led for the rest of the game.

Starks and Morrow combined for 14 first-quarter points, and the Eagles closed out the opening frame with a 20–11 advantage.

The second quarter would not be as successful for the Eagles. After shooting 64.3 percent in the first quarter, they shot 37.5 percent in the second. They also got into foul trouble, allowing Montana to make seven free-throws in the quarter. By the time the buzzer sounded signaling halftime, the Grizzlies had climbed their way back into the game, closing the gap to 34–30.

Hodgins caught fire in the second half, scoring 17 of her 24 points after the break. Midway through the third, Montana used an 8–0 spurt to pull within one point, but EWU responded with a 13–4 run to close out the quarter.

The Eagles hung on in the fourth quarter to pick up the three-point victory. Starks finished with 15 points, five assists and five steals. Morrow added 14 points. The victory was EWU head coach Wendy Schuller’s No. 250 with the Eagles.

“I’m really proud of our team tonight,” Schuller said following the win. “Montana played well and kept hitting big shots and we responded each time.”

The game against Montana State had a different flavor to it. This time, the Eagles trailed most of the game. While Hodgins had a career night, scoring 31 points while playing 38 minutes, Starks was the only other player to manage double digits. She had 11 points.

The Bobcats put in a more balanced effort. Freshman forward Tori Martell had 18 points, senior guard Delaney Junkermier scored 17 points, senior guard Rebekah Hatchard had 16 points and senior guard Hannah Caudill added 10 points.

Even with the strong team play by Montana State, the game was competitive. After trailing the entire first quarter, the Eagles took a two-point lead into halftime.

Hodgins had 18 of her 31 points in the second half, however she didn’t get much help. Freshman guard Brittany Klaman was the only other Eagle who had more than one field goal in the second half. After trailing by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, EWU was able to tie the game at 72 with 52 seconds left in the game. A subsequent three-pointer by Junkermier was the dagger that clinched the game for Montana State.

“I wasn’t excited about our effort for the entire 40 minutes,” said Schuller. “We started fast against Montana and today we were the exact opposite. Against good teams in their house, you can’t do that and expect to win.”

Despite the loss, the Eagles are still within striking distance of one of the top four seeds. EWU is only one game behind Weber State and Idaho State, the two teams tied for third place. The Eagles host both of those teams this week.

Weber State visits Reese Course on Feb. 22 at 6:05 p.m. The Eagles host Idaho State on Feb. 24 at 2:05 p.m. Admission to both games is free to EWU students.