Carrie Ojeda is fine with saying goodbye twice.
Eastern Washington University’s senior post thought her basketball career was over last Friday after she had 20 points and 14 rebounds during a 70-64 overtime loss to Northern Colorado in a Big Sky Conference tournament semifinal. In the locker room, Ojeda shed some tears and told her teammates how much she would miss them.
Not so fast, Carrie.
EWU coach Wendy Schuller entered the locker room and told her players that their season wasn’t done. EWU (19-12) will open the Women’s National Invitation Tournament at 7 p.m. Friday against host Washington (20-11) at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle.
“It was exciting to hear, especially that it’s Washington,” said Ojeda, of Tacoma, who played against three of the Huskies’ starting five during her high school years.
The Eagles are making their third postseason appearance since becoming an NCAA Division I member in 1983-84, but two of those berths have been in the last four seasons. EWU is looking for its first postseason win.
“I think Kelly (Graves) across town is a great example of doing those things with his program,” Schuller said. “Five years ago, they (Gonzaga) were just happy to be there, and now it is an expectation not only to be there but to win games in the postseason. We are trying to follow their lead a little bit and do those same things.”
UW leads the all-time series 21-1, but Ojeda said there’s no “intimidation factor.”
“I think we match up pretty well,” Ojeda said. “We definitely think it’s a winnable game for us. It’s definitely going to come down to the defensive end.”
The teams have a combined 17 Washington natives on their rosters.
Sophomore point guard Jazmine Davis (19.4 ppg) leads the Huskies. UW senior forward Jeneva Anderson played at Lewis and Clark High.
EWU’s leaders are redshirt sophomore guard Lexie Nelson (14.3 ppg) and Ojeda (10.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg).