EWU women’s basketball wins final two at home as Hodgins eclipses 2,000 points


(left to right) Senior forward Mariah Cunningham, senior team manager Sarah Kroontje and senior forward Delaney Hodgins pose with Swoop before the EWU women beat Idaho State 66–64 on Feb. 24. The Eagles are in a four-way tie for third place in the Big Sky with two conference games remaining | Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

The EWU women’s basketball team took a big step forward in its quest to wrap up a top-four seed in the Big Sky Conference championship tournament, which will be held March 5-10 in Reno, Nevada. The Eagles—who entered their final home stand tied for No. 5 in the conference—picked up home victories against the two teams tied for No. 3. On Feb. 22, EWU defeated Weber State 77–68, before downing Idaho State 66-64 on Feb. 24.

The two victories put the Eagles in a four-way tie for No. 3 with Weber State, Idaho State and Portland State, with two games remaining in the regular season.

The top four teams after next week’s games will earn a first round bye in the BSC tournament. As important as the wins are in the standings, EWU head coach Wendy Schuller says that finishing strong is even more important.

“The biggest thing is momentum,” said Schuller after the win over ISU. “We are really trying to play good basketball this time of year. Going into Reno, we want to be playing our best basketball. This means a lot in terms of standings and being in the top four, but the biggest thing is that we took care of Senior Day for our seniors, they wanted to make sure the last game they played on this floor was a W.”

Weber State came to Cheney with a 9–5 record in conference play. Junior guard Kapri Morrow got the scoring started with a three-pointer 25 seconds into the game. The Eagles would lead for the remainder of the game.

Morrow paced the Eagles with 10 points in the first quarter, and the opening frame ended with the Eagles leading 21-15. Weber State senior guard Kailie Quinn kept her team close, scoring eight points in the quarter.

Quinn continued her strong play in the second quarter, going into halftime leading all scorers with 14 points. Still, the Eagles held a 34-33 lead as EWU senior forward Delaney Hodgins finished the first half with 13 points and four rebounds.

Hodgins and Morrow would lead the way in the second half. With both providing scoring, it was impossible for Weber State to double-team either player. The Eagles took a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter, and expanded that lead to 14 points 20 seconds in.

Weber State would not go away. The Wildcats used a 9–1 run to cut the lead to six, but that is the closest they would get. Hodgins had 10 fourth-quarter points to finish with 30 points and nine rebounds. She also became EWU’s first player to reach 2,000 career points. Morrow finished with 23 points and eight rebounds.

Quinn led the Wildcats with 19 points in the loss.

The Eagles out-rebounded Weber State 53–35. Sixteen offensive boards helped EWU score 19 second chance points.

“Tonight, the biggest thing was rebounding,” said Schuller. “We haven’t had a rebounding margin like this all season. We came up big on the glass and rebounded as a committee. When we all rebound and hit the glass, we’re good, and that was great to see from us.”

EWU hosted Idaho State on senior night. It was the final home game for Hodgins and fellow senior forward Mariah Cunningham. While the seniors were being honored, it was freshman guard Brittany Klaman who stole the show.

Klaman eclipsed her career-high of 12 points before the first half was over. She had 14 points in the half, and finished with a team high 17.

While Klaman was scoring in the first half, EWU’s normal leading scorers struggled. Hodgins finished the half with four points, and Morrow had zero. ISU took advantage, and closed out the half with a 37–31 lead.

The third quarter was rough for the Eagles. ISU’s coverage on Klaman improved, and she was limited to three points. Hodgins and Morrow continued to struggle. EWU had two scoring droughts of over three minutes, and junior guard Brooke Blair helped ISU open up a 17-point lead with 90 seconds remaining in the quarter. Morrow picked up her fourth foul, and went to the bench midway through the quarter with zero points. The Eagles were able to close the quarter on a 5–0 run to narrow the gap to 56–44.

ISU’s lead went right back up to 16 points less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, when freshman guard Estefania Ors hit a jumper to put the Bengals up 60–44 with 8:17 remaining in the game. The Bengals would not score again for six minutes and three seconds.

The Eagles’ comeback started with 7:37 remaining on a Hodgins layup. Morrow returned to the game, and EWU started using a full-court press. The junior guard scored her first points on a layup with 7:02 left. Morrow would pick up her fifth foul, but not before scoring seven points in three and a half minutes. Morrow’s seventh point was a free throw to complete a three-point play to bring the Eagles to within three points with 4:29 remaining.

A Hodgins layup brought the Eagles within one, 60–59 and ISU called a timeout. Things didn’t get better for the Bengals following the stop in play. Blair turned the ball over, and junior forward Alissa Sealby hit a jumper with 3:10 remaining to give the Eagles the 61–60 lead. Hodgins made a free throw, capping EWU’s 18–0 run.

With 1:34 remaining, ISU finally scored when Grace Kenyon made a free throw, to make the score 62-61 in EWU’s favor. Cunningham had four of the game’s final five points to close out the victory for the Eagles.

The win demonstrated how far the Eagles have come since the start of the season. Early on, EWU lived and died with Hodgins. If the senior forward had an off game, the Eagles lost. Morrow established herself as the team’s secondary scorer, and sophomore guard Symone Starks stepped up as well. However, all three of these players struggled early against ISU. Klaman’s 17 points, Sealby’s 10 and Cunningham’s eight made the victory possible.

“[Klaman] was fabulous, especially in the first half knocking down shots,” said Schuller. “That kept us in the game at that point. I was happy to see Alissa step up and knock down shots. She hasn’t shot the ball as well as I know she’s capable of so to see her perform like that was really good.”

Schuller also spoke about her seniors after the game.

“I got a little bit emotional,” said Schuller. “I care about them so much. I’m going to miss them both basketball-wise, but I will miss them from day-to-day and in practice and on the road and being around them because they are both awesome young women. I am so proud of them and where they are right now as women and basketball players.”

The Eagles (10–6 Big Sky) finish the regular season on the road against Southern Utah on Feb. 28, and Northern Arizona on March 2.