EWU backed out of a corner by game-winner to make Big Sky tournament championship


Bailey Monteith

Freshman guard Jessica McDowell-White shoots a free throw in EWU’s 67-64 win over Montana on Feb. 9. McDowell-White made the winning shot to send the Eagles to the Big Sky Tournament championship game, after in bounding the ball off of a defender on Wednesday.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

The No. 6 seed EWU women’s basketball team trailed No. 2 seed Northern Colorado by a point with 4.6 seconds remaining, with an impending inbounds play under their own basket. Freshman guard Jessica McDowell-White stepped behind the baseline to throw it in, and without passing to a teammate, scored the shot that would kept the Eagles’ season alive.

McDowell-White, who scored 10 points in the game, passed the ball off All-Big Sky First Team member Savannah Smith’s back and laid the ball in while drawing a foul. She hit the ensuing free throw attempt to give EWU a two point lead, and UNC failed to score. EWU won 59-57 to advance to the Big Sky Tournament Championship for the first time since 1988.

“At the end of the day I knew we needed a bucket,” McDowell-White said. “I saw an opening and threw it off her.”

McDowell-White said she’d never tried to inbound the ball off of a defender before her semifinal-winning shot.

It is the first appearance for head coach Wendy Schuller, who has been with the team for 18 seasons. Schuller’s team has won three games in three days.

“To give what they gave tonight is just phenomenal,” Schuller said, nearly lost for words at the post game press conference. “What a game. What a game. I’m just overcome right now.”

EWU came from behind on March 11 to beat Weber State 81-74 in the first round, and trailed by 12 at the start of the fourth quarter in the quarterfinals, but came back to upset No. 3 seed Idaho State in overtime on March 12.

EWU was led Wednesday by senior guard Kapri Morrow, who had 16 points and nine rebounds. Freshman guard Grace Kirscher added 12 points, and sophomore guard Brittany Klaman had seven points.

EWU overcame UNC’s dominance on the glass. The Bears outrebounded the Eagles 47-35 and had a 23-7 offensive rebound edge. It was the Eagles’ defense that made the difference. UNC took 70 shots from the field while EWU took just 49, but held the Bears to 30 percent shooting.

EWU shot 49 percent from the field.

The Eagles will take on Portland State in the BSC Championship. With a win, EWU will advance to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. Tip-off is at noon PST,  and will be broadcast on Pluto TV. Follow @easternersports on Twitter for live updates.