This never was about revenge.
Well, perhaps a little bit.
“It’s always nice to beat Idaho,” Eastern Washington forward Delaney Hodgins said Friday night, after the Eagles outlasted the Vandals 71-64 in Big Sky Conference women’s basketball at Reese Court.
Dominating inside and getting 21 points from their bench, the Eagles led almost the entire way to earn some payback against the program that ended their previous season in a Women’s NIT game on this same court.
“It really is a rivalry game,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller said after the first of a doubleheader, the first of its kind between the two schools.
A big crowd amplified the rivalry.
“That makes it a big game,” Schuller added.
Eastern (8-9 overall, 3-2 Big Sky) rose to the occasion, leading by as many as 12 points in the third quarter and holding on against a late flurry of 3-point shots from Idaho.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Idaho cut the gap to five points. With just less than 4 minutes left, the Vandals closed to 62-60 on a 3-pointer from Mikayla Ferenz, who was coming off back-to-back Big Sky weekly MVP honors.
Idaho (6-10, 2-3) got no closer. Hodgins, who finished with a game high 19 points and a team-high 12 boards, hit a clutch 12-footer from the right side, and Violet Kapri Morrow scored on a scoop to push the lead to 67-61 with 2 minutes left.
Eastern clinched the game at the line, with Hodgins hitting two foul shots with 12 seconds left.
“We just settled down and did what we were doing the whole game,” Hodgins said. “We were letting them get too many open 3s.”
Idaho finished with 10 3-pointers but needed 28 shots to get them. Meanwhile, the Eagles got an early lift from guard Uriah Howard in her first game back from an injury.
Howard scored all of her 10 points in the first half on 4-for-5 shooting, including 2 for 2 from long range.
“She gave us a big lift,” Schuller said.
The Eagles put up 41 shots in the first half, making 16 to take a 36-30 lead at intermission.
They took their first double-digit lead of the night (48-38) on a 3-pointer by Symone Starks, then got a break seconds later when a charging foul on Starks was reversed.
Morrow finished with 15 points and Starks had 11.
Taylor Pierce had 19 and Ferenz 18 to lead the Vandals, who got only six points from their bench.
“We felt like our depth was something that gave us an advantage,” said Schuller, whose team outscored the Vandals 34-16 in the paint.