MOSCOW, Idaho – Timely early shooting from Mikayla Ferenz allowed Idaho to build a comfortable 11-point lead, and Ferenz and Geraldine McCorkell led the Vandals with 29 and 26 points, respectively.
But Eastern Washington’s inability to contend with Idaho’s rangy Nejra Solo, who was the most decisive presence on the court, allowed the Vandals to control the Eagles much of the rest of the way en route to an 85-71 Big Sky Conference women’s basketball victory Friday in Cowan Spectrum.
Beyond her 12 points, Solo grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.
“It was Solo’s best game” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “Her first double-double. She did a great job on defense. She was a rock in there and we needed that.”
The Vandals (13-10, 9-3 Big Sky) led 47-32 at halftime. They built a lead as large as 17 points in the first half as the Eagles (12-12, 7-5) shot 5 of 22 from the field.
Idaho hit 10 of 17 from the floor in the first half, scoring inside and out. The Vandals were hot from the outside, as Ferenz hit 4 of 7 and McCorkell 6 of 7 on 3-pointers.
“We’re playing really well together,” Ferenz said. “Everybody is finding their role.”
With about five minutes to play in the third quarter, Solo went to the bench and EWU cut its deficit to eight points before Solo returned about three minutes later. The Eagles eventually drew within six points.
“It was kind of a gut check,” Ferenz said.
“They’re going to have these runs in the game. That’s going to happen,” Solo said. “Just on defense get down in our stance and play. That’s what got us the win.”
Idaho has won seven consecutive games since it lost to Eastern on Jan. 12. With six games left in the regular season, Idaho is tied with Northern Colorado for first place.
Violet Kapri Morrow led the Eagles with 18 points and seven rebounds. Delaney Hodgins followed with 15 points and six boards.