Women’s basketball in the Inland Northwest is still going strong in late March, and making a little history along the way.
Big Sky Conference rivals Idaho and Eastern Washington will play each other Monday night in the second round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational, while Washington State is in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
The Vandals and Idaho are sure to make history at Reese Court. Eastern will host a national postseason game for the first time in school history, while Idaho is coming off its first postseason win in 31 years.
The winner will play in the semifinals on Thursday against Rice, with the time and site to be announced. The Owls advanced on Sunday with a 73-63 win over Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
Monday’s game will be the schools’ fourth meeting this season. Eastern is 2-1, including a 67-57 win at Reese Court in the conference opener on New Year’s Eve.
Idaho got some payback with a 78-51 win in Moscow on Feb. 18, but the Eagles knocked off the defending Big Sky tournament champions, 73-64 in Reno, Nevada, just 10 days ago.
Both teams took different routes to advance.
Idaho (18-14) stayed in Moscow and earned a 64-57 win over Utah State on Wednesday. Taylor Pierce led the way with 19 points and a career-high eight rebounds and Mikayla Ferenz scored 13.
A day later, Eastern Washington traveled nearly 2,200 miles to San Marcos, Texas, and picked up a 66-62 overtime win over Texas State. Senior Ashli Payne scored a career-high 27 points, matched her season-high in rebounds with 14 and drilled a season-best four 3-point field goals against the Wildcats.
Eastern (19-13) has a chance to win 20 games for the third season in a row under head coach Wendy Schuller.
The game will be streamed for free live on WatchBigSky.com and on the Watch Big Sky app.
Meanwhile, the Cougars will host UC Davis on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the WNIT. WSU is coming off the second postseason win in program history, a 68-67 overtime thriller at Wyoming.
UC Davis defeated Colorado State on Sunday afternoon to advance to the next round.